Sunday, April 8, 2007


In November 1973, Leon Harmon, a researcher at Bell Labs wrote an article for Scientific American titled, "The Recognition of Faces." It included pixilated images, most notably this one of Abraham Lincoln:

The Lincoln image in the Scientific American article had already seen wide distribution through the college engineering magazine circuit; it seemed like half of us put it on the cover. It had been part of a press release from Bell Labs, and well, the first time you see it, it’s a revelation. Or at least it was. Everyone is used to pixelation now, and few people think about it as such; they’re usually more interested in what it’s obscuring, i.e. the “naughty bits” on basic cable channels like E! when the show is about porn stars or Howard Stern re-runs are letting the strippers get professional.

A few years after the Scientific American article, Salvador Dali entered the arena with one of his last truly striking works "Gala contemplating the Mediterranean Sea, which at 30 meters becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko).":

Several years ago, I spent several days looking at the face of Mika Tan. You may now think whatever thoughts you wish to think about the psychological meaning of my focusing on the face of a porn star:

What I was doing was experimenting with various image processing filters. I’ve been fascinated by voice and image processing since college, and periodically I reacquaint myself with the tools available. Things that once took days of mainframe time now take seconds on a mid-level PC, and there are also a lot more tricks and methods available to the professional or the hobbyist, because people are clever, and there are a lot of people interested in images. Do tell.

I’ve done a lot of experimenting with computer generated abstract art, often starting with more conventional photographic images. One of the things I’ve confirmed along the way is that faces are special; we see them easily, even when they are not there, and modified images of faces carry emotional weight far more easily than other images. We’re built to recognize faces (that’s part of the point of the Scientific American article), and the images go deep.

So anyway, if you’re going to be nerding about in Photoshop, Irfanview, Corel Photopaint, and Pro Motion for days on end, it’s not a bad idea to begin with an image or images that are both evocative and easy to look at. So that pretty much answers the question of “Why Mika Tan?” At least to me it does.

Finally, in an earlier essay, I noted the ability to creating hidden codes and subliminal sexual images via image processing. So here you go:

Good luck and never let it be said that I’m a prude, just way too subtle.

Voyeurism goes deep. A Chicago friend once told me, “You’re not really into voyeurism until you’ve done things like put a photograph of a naked girl in a glass cabinet, lit by candlelight, and then spied on it from behind a chair across the room with a telescope.” – Fritz Lieber

1 comment:

Blogger said...

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