Perverted Images

As an occasional spectator of this image observed, with a striking originality of thought, stones are the first photographers: they capture the moments of lava movement.


The photograph depicts a cliff with the aperture above and is taken on January 3, 2016, in the Longhorn Cavern, by me.

To elaborate, the stones simultaneously are the first photographs: they suspend the clandestine processes boiling in the heats of liquid basalt. The nature of photography is thus preserved: the ultimate temporality captured for eternity.

What is remarkable about this picture? Nothing in particular. The post-processing with similar results abound on the web. It has the characteristic gradations of tone and color and a frame which is supposed to convey a nostalgic touch to the image. Perhaps it achieves the intended results, perhaps not, one could have said, were it not for the fact that there were no “intended results” in the sense of “fruits of premeditated human activity yielding to the electronically altered image.” What we see is this post-procession, created entirely by Assistant, the application.

The image was to remain dormant in my endless photo roll, but as a result of the unknown to me algorithm it was selected for manipulations, alterations, and transmogrification,  and subsequently fused into the image we now know it to be.

Out of several attempts of altering photos the application makes, some ask to be discarded without long musings. The algorithm turns the images into the black-and-white shadows of themselves where no human being, regardless of how little of artistic sense s/he has (not), would never do. Out of those which might be kept, many images are very similar-looking, as if watched through the yellow-green-magenta blurry filters. The Assistant adds a pretty heavy vignette, as well as the aforementioned artistic frame alluding to the times of analogous photography, and adjusts brightness, contrast, and saturation.

Sergyei Akishin speculated: “I think the only justification for photo processing obsession is a great desire for something unedited and unprocessed to suddenly appear as facially, though maybe unbearably, evident” (Akishin, 2016) thereby suggesting that we like processed photos because they make, by virtue of their existence, other photographs, and perhaps even un-pictured and undocumented reality, appear to be more true by contrast.

Perhaps this is a part of the attraction of post-processing, but a more important sentiment is the desire of temporarily dislodge oneself into a transformed fairyland, the phantasmagoric dreamworld, the stranger the better.


Akishin, Sergyei.

2016. A comment on Facebook. [retrieved 1/14/2016]


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