This is a photo created by a young Swedish photographer named Eric Johanssen. This talented young man creates images in his fertile imagination then, through his photographic and computer skills, converts them into hard copy photographs for the rest of us to admire and wonder at.
The concept is not new. In fact, there’s an exhibition in New York City this month featuring manipulated photographs from decades past. One of these shows the infamous dirigible Hindenburg moored to the radio tower of the Empire State Building, sometime in the 1930’s. It’s amazing, and the photo has spread around the web. The problem: It’s a fraud. It never happened. It’s an early manipulated photograph. Back in the 1930’s, this was accomplished slowly and with great photographic artistry. Today, any competent person can accomplish much the same thing with a computer and Photo Shop. It happens in great volume too.
This made me realize that we had crept into another major paradigm shift that I hadn’t even noticed: The photograph is no longer the trusty, evidenciary record that it once was, and never will be again.
Remember the classic expression, “One picture is worth a thousand words?” Not any more.
The film noir blackmail threat of “I have photographs of you both … together” means nothing.
The Perry Mason gotcha line, when confronting the culprit with “Don’t deny it. We have the whole thing on film!” A paralegal could get the guy out from under that accusation, and maybe get him a court settlement for his trouble..
Fashion models and celebrities can easily arrange to have a spotless complexion, designer clothes, a new hair look, even drop 20 pounds or so, and it wouldn’t take a photo studio more than an hour to make it all come true.
I have an acquaintance whose grandson makes up authentic looking photographs of family members with historical characters. Would you like to see yourself at the Gettysburg Address standing beside President Lincoln? It can be done.
Finally, of course, we’ll have to bury the old standby: “Seeing is Believing.”
Oh well, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, and all that jazz. The photograph, one more staple of reality and truth we used to rely upon, is gone forever. It has morphed into just one more communication device that can be manipulated to sway the multitudes.
It all gives new meaning to that old philosopher, Groucho Marx’s, classic line: “Who are you going to believe: Me or your lying eyes?”