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You Won't Believe What YOU Can Do With a Photograph (Publisher Recommended)

Written by Subject: Technology: Software
Today's 'What Hath God Wrought?' Tech MomentBy James Fallows
Oct 24 2011, 11:15 AM ET
We all know about photoshopping and the way it has made photographic "evidence" the least rather than the most believable indicator of underlying reality.

 For the next step down this road, consider this project from Kevin Karsch, a PhD student at the University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign. Its official title is "Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs." Once you realize that "legacy photographs" means "real photographs of something that actually existed," and "synthetic objects" covers just about anything you can imagine, you have an idea of the potential. But check it out (and be sure to listen to the narration):

Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs from Kevin Karsch on Vimeo.

For more discussion, see Slashdot and Vimeo. Karsch says that the system, designed to be very easy for non-techies to use, "has applications in the movie and gaming industry, as well as home decorating and user content creation, among others." Among others, indeed! I can think of: political advertising and "reality"-creation, blackmail, the ever-evolving "news" media, and the law. That old chestnut about "who do you believe, me or your own eyes" will take on a new twist. Thanks to E. Goldstick.

Update: Jamais Cascio went into some of the possibilities of this alterable video "reality," and its political and cultural ramifications, three years ago.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Steve B.
Entered on:

"Among others, indeed! I can think of: political advertising and "reality"-creation, blackmail, the ever-evolving "news" media, and the law"

While the below excerpt is in the context of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, THE POINT is the examination of video technology, AND, that it has been in the government's and main stream media's arsenal since before the year 2,000.

Media Warned About TV Fakery
Media Warned About TV Fakery

"Airing fake scenarios on TV is known as "TV fakery" (a term that has been used back since at least 1998). The concept of simulating a fake attack on computer and broadcasting it to the world is nothing new. The military had talked about using TV fakery well before 9/11:

"INFORMATION WARFARE
Prof George J. Stein, AWC
Airpower Journal - Spring 1995

"Let us take just one example of how current technologies could be used for strategic-level information warfare. If, say, the capabilities of already well-known Hollywood technologies to simulate reality were added to our arsenal, a genuinely revolutionary new form of warfare would become possible. Today, the techniques of combining live actors with computer-generated video graphics can easily create a "virtual" news conference, summit meeting, or perhaps even a battle that would exist in "effect" though not in physical fact. Stored video images can be recombined or "morphed" endlessly to produce any effect chosen. This moves well beyond traditional military deception, and now, perhaps, "pictures" will be worth a thousand tanks.
"

From the same entry as above...

"CBS Is Divided Over the Use Of False Images In Broadcasts

"Published: January 13, 2000
New York Times

"[Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News,] said that he understood the argument against the use of the technology -- which is widely employed in sports and some entertainment shows -- on news programs. The danger is "that it looks too real and therefore it's wrong or potentially wrong," he said. "I certainly agree it's potentially subject to abuse."

"He noted that advances in computer-generated techniques had made things like missiles hitting Baghdad and airplanes crashing lo
ok so real that it was incumbent on networks to underscore that these were not real images."

 

 

 


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