Sunday, 18 April 2010

Photoshop disaster?

I quite regularly check the Photoshop Disaster blog. It's a collection of "commercial and awful" Photoshop work and it has the occasional howler which makes it worth checking.

The problem is the "democracy" of the web and the necessity that the blog chose frequent images. (It is only the occasional howler which is interesting.) You often find a picture posted that, well… isn't a disaster. Fair enough – the blog is just for entertainment. Except that, should you decide to read them, those leaving comments often follow the web-comment trend of holier-than-thou arrogance and intolerance of difference. "If you don't like it, go away." Someone asking a question as to how worth posting some pictures are just gets a reply from another commenter containing a link to the questioners own blog declaiming how boring her site (unconnected to design) is in an attempt to demean her argument – or is it just demean her?

This is increasingly the democracy of the web, which curiously seems less "free" as time goes on. Agree or go away. As an article in McSweeney's Panorama had it, "slouching towards similarity"

Meanwhile, both those who comment and the owner of the site seem to have a hard time recognising what is a disaster. Frequently, DVD covers are posted, which may be awful, but are rarely intended to be "realistic" looking – especially the comedy covers. And why should they be? Not everything has to conform to a general level of group-created standards. Many of the DVD covers may be "rubbish" (one or two postings may point that out) but frequent posts (the demand of the web) reveal nothing.

Other commenters seem to need to look a little closer at a natural human body and what it can look like – not everything strange about a body has been Photoshopped in.

Recent times have seen two examples of the decidedly questionable post-and-comments. One showed a large-size fashion model. The Photoshopping may have included any amount of skin-smoothing etc but the image was posted because the Photoshopper had allegedly shrunk the woman's head too much. However, another link to other pictures showed that the woman model was plus-size with what seemed a naturally "smaller" head. But the comments kept coming, and despite plenty of resistance the ususal "if you don't like it go away" attitude filtered through. The only ugliness I could perceive was in the post and some comment content.

Then a couple of days ago, a good quality ballet brochure cover from designers at me studio was featured. Oh, the comments – despite the imagery being an intentional expression of movement and dance. I couldn't fault the cover, but if someone else doesn't like it, fine. However, the determined appearance of those who think that there is only one correct way to represent things seems almost worrying. Many people commenting would shiver at Picasso ("wow, that's not where an nose should go! Didn't he have time to finish the job?") and while I'm not comparing the illustrator of the ballet cover with Picasso, it does seem to me that much of comment – on the web generally, in fact – is meaningless and creating some kind of new grouping of you might call the dictatorially normal. Good that someone from me studio replied and then posted his own news about democracy disasters (the April 16 entry).

Maybe the commenters are right, though. Walk away – don't get involved. Perhaps by leaving the group-minded intolerant to their own space, you can keep a head above the banal sarcasm.

Or perhaps I shouldn't write that on a blog.

Update, Oct 5, 2010: A recent post, again on plus-size women, was too prejudiced (even if intended as humour). I won't be checking again, even for the occasional howler.

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