Faking It: Photoshop Dissolves Reality

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A doctored image shared during Hurricane Sandy shows a shark swimming in a flooded residential neighborhood
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Right after “Superstorm” Sandy, a photo made the rounds online: a shark swimming through the floodwaters of suburban New Jersey. A few people retweeted it in a panic, but most of us shrugged. Shark swimming down the street, ha, ha. 

Professional photographers have always tweaked their images, in ways obvious or subtle, but the ubiquity of image manipulation tools like Photoshop has brought us to a new place: for the first time, we no longer assume that a photograph documents real life.

Kurt Andersen talks with one of the advisors of Studio 360’s Science & Creativity series: Maneesh Agrawala, a MacArthur “genius” and professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.  Agrawala, who runs the university’s Visualization Lab, explains how the development of new interfaces for Photoshop changed our relationship with images, how a new field of image forensics plays a cat and mouse game with manipulators, and how new technologies change not just the way we use images, but what images mean.