some half-baked theories on Images

Images in the world

My instagram feed as of Dec 2017. @Xiuxiusux


Never before have we been exposed to so many digital images. But what is a digital image? Surely we know one when we see one – usually through the screen of a sophisticated device. Usually on a social platform where images become an intimate language used to communicate an aesthetic or persona.

Processing images

This may be a seductive and exciting language, but it doesn’t always communicate the truest information. Digital natives have an especially hard time navigating “real” or “fake” images. In line with the recent fake news crisis, a 2016 study from Stanford showed that most high school students accept photographs as presented, without verifying them. The fakeness of images can be characterized in two aspects – perceptually or politically.

Perceptual — What your eye perceives as the true subject matter of an image can be wrong. A “trick of the eye”. This often goes into arguments about the exact color of an item, which comes off as harmless because color is relative and can cause optical illusions by nature.

We know grey strawberries don’t physically exist, yet there are no shades of red in this image.
A twitter user argues that the shoe is grey/light blue rather than pink/white by sampling of the image’s pixel data.
the infamous white/gold or blue/black dress.
Another example of perception impacting your ability to determine the image’s true subject matter. Does she have really shiny legs or is it just paint? Many make-up artists use similar techniques to achieve special effects.


Political — The more nefarious side of questioning an image’s realness is taking the image out of its original context, into a fabricated made-up one. This can happen by manipulating the image itself using Photoshop (you can check for algorithmic manipulation/compression in an image by using tools like Izitru):

⬑Edited image.
⬑Un-edited, original image.


or by generating a reductive or just plain wrong caption to accompany the image:

pulled from the Museum of Hoaxes.


Images in relationship to other images

Some examples of ‘image narratives’:

@buh___bye on Instagram posts three images at a time –

APEX, Arthur Jafa:

Hito Steyerl. 2009. “In Defense of the Poor Image.” e-flux.

I’m Google, Dina Kelberman:

X Degrees of Separation, Mario Klingemann:

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