It’s hard to fathom the effect that Photoshop and digital retouching has had on our world. Limitations placed on artists and photographers in particular have systematically been stripped away as terms like “‘shopped” made their way into our vernacular.
In this short video, PBS Arts examines that effect. From the artist, to the photographer, to the everyday citizen who has something to say, nobody has been left unaltered by Photoshop.
Giving the artist perspective, art director and illustrator Jeff Huang talks about the new and exciting canvas that Photoshop has given artists like him. Constantly fighting those who don’t understand the skill required on one side and those who see a piece of Photoshop art as somehow less artistic on the other, the Photoshop artist is still awaiting the recognition he’s due.
On the photography end we have Laurent Le Moing of Picturehouse NYC, who briefly explains the ins and outs of retouching, and makes the distinction between good retouching — that is, retouching that preserves the human element — and bad retouching that has led to a twisted understanding of beauty and perfection.
Perhaps most interesting, however, is the third section of the video on meme generation. Narrated by Don Caldwell of Know Your Meme, this section discusses how the ability to create and alter memes in Photoshop has changed the way we interact with and comment on our culture.
Caldwell mentions the Thumbs & Ammo meme as a statement about gun control, and the pepper spray cop as a statement about police brutality. It seems that our ability to alter images in Photoshop, be they obviously fake or otherwise, has allowed people to communicate their political and cultural views more effectively than words ever could.
Truth be told, there are probably many more examples of how Photoshop has affected us. In the past, we’ve shared the opinion that the prevalence of Photoshop has even changed our perception and understanding of reality. How else do you think Photoshop is “remixing the world?”