Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wonder in Aliceland II/III

Alice Willow
Again with the Yashica Mat / f/4 / Kodak Ektachrome

There's something deeply odd about using Photoshop to edit photographs shot on film. Nowadays Photoshop is synonymous with digital photography, with plastic skin and Ralph Lauren's odd taste in retouching and rooms full of people earning pennies by drawing selection masks around hair. Fakery and desperation. It's one of a tiny number of professional applications that the Man on the Clapham Omnibus has heard of. It's more than a piece of software, really. It's an icon. An aspiration; a symptom. The 2000s was the Photoshop Decade, a decade of fakery and desperation, rooms full of people earning pennies etc. Clone brush, adjustment layer, the client gets what the client wants...

...but it was actually developed back in the late 1980s, a more wholesome age of substance and wholesomeness, when people were genuine and had real feelings, and the world was at peace, and digital photography had not yet left the lab. Back then Photoshop was an esoteric thing, one application amongst many, part of the desktop publishing revolution.

Not something you hear about nowadays, the desktop publishing revolution. The revolution was a smashing success and is now so normal as to be unexceptional, but in the late 1980s the idea of digitising images - perhaps with a video capture card, grabbing frames from videotape, or a still video camera, or a handheld scanner - was the cutting edge. One man, or woman, with a hugely expensive Macintosh IIFX and a tonne of memory and Adobe Pagemaker etc could make a whole magazine by him-or-her-self!

Consistent colour balance? I've heard of it.

But how to distribute it, eh? Bulletin boards! And imagine if there was an illustrated bulletin board, like Hypercard perhaps, with things you could click on. Connected via lines of light. The world will be transformed. And it was, and this is it.