Embellishments

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These photographs represent some initial work on an experiment in cosmetics; in filtering, in embellishing, and in fortifying. I selected a set of original photographs I felt captured the scene or subject close to what my eye saw when I raised my camera to take the picture. The selections also included some typical photographic flaws such as

blurring or over or under exposure, but each image might be described as pretty...or attractive...or appealing.


In processing the photographs, I digitally applied “painterly” filters, readily available in Adobe Photoshop, to shift the appearance of the original photograph from a real and natural, “as is” impression, to a related, though cosmetically altered version; the old subject with a new face. Finally I printed each image on a very absorbent paper capable of receiving an intense coating of ink to amplify the changes with saturations of color and contrast.


These modifications left the final effects to the whims of the filters; I relinquished control over the viewer’s eventual impression. In a similar way, women (more often) craft adjustments to tweak their appearances. In both cases the embellishments are meant to improve the presentation, increase acceptability and boost appeal. Well-applied cosmetics can help

one trait stand out, especially if it is already an asset or a strength. In applying makeup, as in using digital filtering on these images, exaggeration is used to step up a positive effect. Visually, as long as the change does not go so far as to eliminate a resemblance to the original, such a change (eyeliner on pretty eyes or lipstick on shapely lips/filters with painting-like strokes atop colorful landscapes) can possibly increase the overall value of the subject. To a significant extent, our species relies on visual cues to make judgments about value, using what their eyes are draw to, and, as such, enhancement is seen as a positive tactic in our culture.   


I will continue to study superficial embellishments to explore visual qualities we humans respond to and perhaps illustrate something of the difference between the look and feel of real life from a cosmetically enhanced version. I hope to create some interesting images to help me look at whether embellishing is a successful endeavor. Is it perhaps even necessary? Is there an actual benefit to improving on nature? Is voodoo or

magic involved...?