Friday, November 26, 2021

some possibly false memories about the history of making false memories

The other day I sang the praises of "Pixelmator Pro" for Mac, which let me clean up this photo of a neighbor's pup (name of Star)

It was very easy to do with Pixelmator Pro's "repair" tool. Some Android phones having a built-in "Magic Eraser" is a significant (but I suspect temporary?) advantage over Apple iPhones, but I was able to make the same effect happen on the iOS version of Pixelmator, so the difference is just the advantage of having something built-in. (And the power of brand name/labeling)

I'm having a bit of possible Mandela Effect though, about similar retouching in history... in the 1984 Olympics, runners Mary Decker and Zola Budd bumped and head a tripping incident, and the aftermath was captured in some iconic photos by David Burnett, most notably this one:

I have a strong memory about this photo (even though I would have been in 4th grade at the time) Specifically: a version was published that had (digitally?) removed the walkie-talkie antenna that seems to be jutting from Decker's jaw, and that was considered controversial; but Google as I might, I can only find the un-retouched version, and no mention of such a controversy, so now I'm second guessing myself! Was it a big issue? Did I even see an article or watch a segment on it?

Of course, there are long-standing tropes about how not photo tells the complete truth. You never know what's outside the boundary of the photo; either physically out of frame or in the moments before and after. And with long-standing photo manipulation - culminating in deepfake videos - seeing will no longer be believing. (It almost makes Soviet Era Photo Retouching seem quaint.) 

With the rise of deepfakes... I don't know. Reputation (of the individuals in question and of news sources) is going to be increasingly important - like more and more will depend on how much you trust the chain of people saying they say what they said, or didn't say. (And in a nation with a long standing tradition of left-leaning but basically factually reliable news against more explicitly partisan and ideological "truthiness" sources on the right, this is a bad development.) But any newspaper or magazine has always been able to fabricate quotes, so having to trust your source is nothing new, but now even eyewitness video cannot be considered canonical evidence unless confirmed by the people in it.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a link showing evidence of your memories plus the retouched photo:

    Not easy to find!