Journeys through the Visual World – What do visual technologies do?

The way that we see through technology has changed dramatically since the early 1800’s and a huge factor of this change is manipulation. Whether it is shown through manipulation of photography and images or through what the media portrays, the change is massive. The two points i am going to discuss are manipulation through photography and manipulation through the media. Parts of this include how images can be taken at one time but put together at different times with an illusion of movement,  The idea of 1990s computers changing the manipulation process to a now very dominant process of photograph manipulation, changing the way the media portrays things. Moving into the media manipulation side of pilots and the virtual reality they use to learn how to fly planes. Also with significant events such as 9/11 with the Twin Towers and what the media states happened compared to what other people see as happening could be so different.

Mirzoeff states that “if more than 12 frames are shown in a second, an illusion of movement occurs” (Mirzoeff 131) This leads us to believe that every images taken is different to what we would see through the naked eye and also manipulating us to believe that what we see in a photograph in the media is exactly what the camera had taken.. Mirzoeff also states that “The human eye retains an image for an instant after it perceives it” (Mirzoeff 131) Photography is not about what we photograph, it is about what it looks like after being photographed therefore manipulated through a camera compared to the naked eye. Moving into the photo shop side of things and the more modern ways of manipulation. in the 1990s, old school manual photography manipulation techniques were replaced by up to date techniques like photo shop. “Today’s digital manipulated images are part of a continuum that extends back to the early days” (Fineman) This is a quote explaining how the change in photography manipulation is ever-changing and enhancing. This is making us see and believe things that have been manipulated to be true and what they actually look like. since 1895 we have watched the world as moving pictures on a screen and since then, the way the world sees things is different and essentially the way that the media wants us to see it. This is also in regards to photoshopped images of female models in magazines. They have been photoshopped to look a certain way and manipulate the image therefore manipulating the human population to see what the media wants us to see.

celebrities-before-and-after-photoshop-21Celebrities Before and After Photoshop, Rihanna

This image above is an example of what digital manipulation magazine designers use. the first photo is the unedited photograph of famous pop singer Rihanna and the second is the first photograph after it has been manipulated to look “perfect” in Photoshop. This is  manipulating us to believe that we should look perfect like the image on the right when in reality the image on the left is absolutely fine but the media do not see it that way and this is what the media is doing to us through technology.

twin towersSeptember 11 2001

Moving into another point. How the media manipulates us to believe what happened compared to the other scenarios of a significant event. The event I am going to discuss is the event of 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in the United States. There are many conspiracy theories on the internet claiming many different scenarios of what actually happened. The most prominent conspiracy theory is that the collapse of the Twin Towers and 7 World Trade Center were the result of a controlled demolition rather than structural failure due to impact and fire. Although it is unknown for sure what actually occurred. The main conspiracy theory is that the collapsing of the Twin towers was a controlled demolition rather than a terrorist attack.  The media were quick to say that there was a plane that crashed into the tower. If this was true, why did the building not tip. surely the top part of the building would not be balanced evenly therefore the building should have fallen. This theory tries to prove that the attack was in fact not an attack and was a controlled demolition as in videos on the internet show the building blowing up from the middle and downwards. This is a result of the media strongly stating their beliefs of what happened in the event, not looking to the wider picture of what could happen. Therefore, manipulating us again through new media technology that it was definitely a terrorist attack and there was no other scenario until conspiracy theories arose.

Technology manipulating us is not always bad. Mirzoeff states that “Just as we once had to learn how to see like a camera, a pilot must learn how to interact with the visualization of his display on which his life depends.” (Mirzoeff 144) This is implying that pilots are learning to interact with flying planes using virtual reality. This is a significant change in technology and the way pilots learn how to fly. This is a good thing because Pilots have an easier and safer way to learn how to fly properly rather than risking their own life to learn in a plane to begin with. This is also used for playstation 4 games like World of Warcraft making playing the game almost virtual with the headset on.

In conclusion, newer visual technologies and media are manipulating us to see different from reality. although new things like virtual reality exist and is creating us to see things virtually, the way the media is portraying many different theories and images are wrong and not real.


Fineman, Mia, assistant curator department of photographs the metropolitan museum of art, Published on Oct 26, 2012 “A Photographic truth”

Mirzoeff, Nicholas, “The World on Screen”. How to See the World, Pelican, 2015, pages 131, 144

Osborne, Hannah, 9/11 and MH370: Conspiracy Theories Emerge Whether There is an Explanation or Not, September 11, 2014

Osterman, Mark Process Historian, Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center, George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film.

Rihanna, Celebrities Before and After Photoshop,


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