Photoshop: Genesis of the Anti-image

By Asta Rowe.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 18, 2014 $US5.00

The digital alteration of image surfaces – usually referred to as airbrushing or Photoshopping – is a ubiquitous yet still highly enigmatic phenomenon, from a theoretical standpoint. This paper argues that insights into the nature of Photoshop can be uncovered through sixteenth century mannerist paintings. Indeed, we discern a protomorphic Photoshop technique at play in Mannerism’s plastic manipulations of the conventional human form. After analysing the justifications for and implications of such an assertion, we turn to contemporary Dutch artist, Rudd van Empel, who uses Photoshop to create images of children that, rather than inviting us into their world, actively exerts an antagonistic force against the viewer, creating an “anti-image” of sorts. What does this suggest about the contentious and curious act of photoshopping images? Does Photoshop draw out something unforeseeable within the image, whereby imagistic recognition is given over to pure technē? This effect would point to an aspect of the image that surpasses the visual coordinates of seeing, recognising, and anchoring images in our world.

Keywords: Photoshop, Anti-image, Mannerism

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 3, June 2014, pp.71-81. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 18, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 666.039KB)).

Asta Rowe

PhD, University of Melbourne, University of Melbourne, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada