PHOTOGRAPHS DON'T LIE BUT LIARS CAN PHOTOGRAPH
Some have bemoaned a loss of faith in pictorial veracity ever since National Geographic magazine moved a couple of pyramids using a $100,000 specialized imaging computer in 1982.
Today one could accomplish such a project with a home computer. Clearly a greater loss of faith has resulted from failures in our political institutions than through technological change. Like the people of a small town in the old west, one trusted not the technology of the telegraph but the operator-if we know and trust the messenger, we trust the message.19 Similarly, the death of photography has been exaggerated. Oh, there is little doubt that optical-chemical means of depiction will eventually be as rarefied as platinum printing today, but like those making IRIS prints on fine rag paper, artists will continue to make elegant objects that become commodities in an art market. Photography is in a constant state of becoming. From daguerreotype to tintype, from platinum to Cibachrome, the concern should not be limited to physical media but enlarged to include intent and content. The real challenge is from a radically different form of non-linear thinking-the same challenge is raised against television and film. Digital imaging represents a new way to encode visual data which stimulates new solutions. Future interactive art works will truely engage the audience in taking responsibility to create new paths, new interprtive environments. Like a solar eclipse, the precise sequence or duration may not be repeated again for some time. Thus far, interactive art works offer novel but limited patterns. Just as we become comfortable with the multiple story lines in hour-long television programs like "Picket Fences" or "LA Law," today's CD ROMs offer patterns that will become predictable after a while.
Contents Interactive Publishing Art & WWW Reality
19 The week after Time magazine ran a cover "photo" of O. J. Simpson severely darkened, slightly softened with prisoner number reduced, the managing editor applogized for confusing his audience. The difference between a photograph and a photo-illustration, particularly one generated with a computer, becomes an ontological question, the epistemological question is "who do you trust?"
If there was anything wrong with the cover, in my view, it was that it was not immediately apparent that this was a photo-illustration rather than an unaltered photograph; to know that, a reader had to turn to our contents page or see the original mug shot on the opening page of the story.
James R. Gaines, Managing Editor
TIME July 4, 1994 144:1, page 4.