Discover the Role Digital Photo Manipulation Has Played in the World of Politics and Art

One of the great advantages to photographers of digital photo manipulations, is the control over the work as subtle changes occur on the screen instantaneously. The availability of this technology to a photo-montagist such as John Heartfield during the 1930′s would have had a profound impact when he painstakingly cut photographs and re-glued them into new configurations. Heartfield created a series of political art montages for a German magazine in the lead up to the Nazi era, and the technology would no doubt have led to an aesthetically different outcome, although the essential ingredient is the idea behind the work and its relativity to the period that makes the work so poignant as politics and art.Throughout the 1980′s and 90′s, digital photo manipulation equipment and software enabled the artists to readily transform their captured images. This transformation through the adding of other components into the image’s composition, or the convenient removal and alteration of other aspects of the image, changed the dynamics of the artist’s relationship to the image completely. While the technological developments have enabled artists to explore the mechanisms of this new aesthetic direction in politics and art, the work is still ultimately about the ideas that are explored. The photograph and its digital manipulation are only the means, or rather the medium of choice to achieve the articulation of those ideas of politics art.The electronic format of digital photo manipulations readily enables artists to control the transformation or the merging of images, thereby providing them with a visual medium that is fresh for ideas to be readily developed. The taking of either intuitive, staged, or found images and then the morphing of those images into forms that are surreal, sublime or even gothic, the artist has the means to present the viewer with medleys that often have a serene visual aesthetic while commenting on popular culture arts. The work of collaborators Anthony Aziz and Sam Cucher, captures a synthesis of ideas and concerns regarding the perceived form of the known. They create a sense that the person or object portrayed in their work is real in the here and now, rather than the portrayal of just a digital photo manipulated image. In their 1994 ‘Dystopia’ series of work an allusive effect is created, evident in the piece titled ‘Rick’ where the head and shoulder portrait of a young adult male depicts a face with all of the sensory organs eerily concealed under skin. No eyes, mouth, nose or ear orifices are visible, only the outline and contours of what should be there, but isn’t. Many of their latter works also combine imagery of human skin with scenes that are computer generated, which in so doing they purposely remove this ambiguity with regard to the manipulation of the image as political arts.

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