photography illusion before + after computers

“[w]hat is faked is, of course, not reality but photographic reality, reality as seen by the camera lens. In other words, what computer graphics has (almost) achieved is not realism, but only photorealism — the ability to fake not our perceptual and bodily experience of reality but only its photographic image.[16]”
-manovich

human beings have been faking photorealism for years. the first pre-computer example that comes to mind (for me) is a hoax that came out of england in the early 1900’s, the “cottlington fairies.”

in 1917, cousins elsie and frances took photographs of what they said were “real fairies”

the girls claimed that they had been playing with these fairies, and elsie’s mother believed them. the photos caught the attention of author sir arthur conan doyle, who believed in the supernatural, and he wrote an article about them in a magazine, which caused a surge in their popularity. (source)
the hoax remained unexplained until the 1970’s, when it was pointed out that the fairies resembled illustrations from a particular book, and in the 1980’s one of the girls finally admitted that they were fake- illustrations cut out and held in place with hat pins.
now, when i look at these images, i already know that they are fake. but, for some reason, i don’t feel as if i’d have been fooled by them. the fairy really looks like a cut out…
today, we have a lot more at our disposal that allows us to create more photorealistic illusions.
take, for example, this levitation photograph by new jersey-based photographer, lucia holm:
she is the first person who comes to my mind when i think “amazing beautiful illusions.”
this photograph looks extremely believable. holm has a reflection on the table beneath her. nothing seems “off” or out of place. she is just levitating.
obviously, as we know, this is not really happening, but the photographer, is able to fake photographic reality more effectively than people with fewer tools to do so some 80 years before her.
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This entry was written by picturesofmeghan and published on March 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm. It’s filed under meghan's posts, Photography. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “photography illusion before + after computers

  1. Maybe you already know this, and i may be wrong, but I believe she is actually above the table, except a second exposure is being taken when she and the box she is resting on are moved. tripod keeps it all in register and the wall is simply brushed in where the support once was.

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