As the Dubai assassination is accumulating more and more ‘evidences’ the mystery is growing in the same proportion.
…”UK probes fake passports in Hamas killing..
British PM Brown pledges ‘full investigation’ into how fake British passports were linked to killers of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.’ in Dubai, see here.
But in some way the underlying real story is that of the digital cameras monitoring the people entering the hotel’s main entrance. With their benevolent help the Dubai police says she was able to reconstruct a plausible plot pointing to the group who presumably perpetuated the assassination of al-Mabhoud.
“The Group”, click to enlarge.
Should it come as a surprise? No, today in the era of the pixel, when every urban corner is infested by digital devices screening, filtering and distorting the visual space beyond the monitor display, you may use the title of the celebrated James Joyce’s novel, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” paraphrased into ‘You the citizen as a Fake digital Portrait of Yourself”‘.
You may ask: why equating ‘citizen’ to ‘fake portrait of himself’? Are Rembrandt’s auto portrait not some sort of fake of himself? Well no, a priory he was himself and himself is what he painted to finally be exhibited in the.. Tate gallery. The digital camera is not you and a priory know nothing about your existence while being busy at filming you.
But in terms of being exhibited, you are exhibited, but not in a gallery. You are exhibited for your lifetime and afterward in the digital archives basements of your own country or elsewhere, with the help of your Gmail, facebook, Twitter, MySpace, You Tube … and I forget, your blog and your cellular.. and so on. You model and promote yourself into a pixelike fake auto portrait available to anyone on the information highway.
But again, why ‘Fake”? Because the pixel created in a monitor is only pure photon energy radiated into our eyes and brain without palpable substance. It’s you and not you. This sort of faking the assassination in Dubai is something impersonal automatically performed on the fly by the cameras, created by cutting out a very partial digital picture from the monitored space and inferring from this digital snapshot on the whole peripheral space of your own live. Is that not a fake re-creation of yourself ..far away from a printed photo, drawing or painting and sculpture who embodied something from the people who created them via yours and their own personality, reverberating an intimate proximity with you.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, click to enlarge,
Now, the whole Mahmoud al-Mabhouh affair is almost an Hollywood espionage thriller, where the acting role of the digital cameras monitoring the hotel entrance, the cameras monitoring the airport the customs, the town and putting it shorty our entire living space are well worth an Oscar in the category of the best acting actor .
When I read about identity theft of innocent citizens from the UK, Ireland France and Germany I smile. Dubai is monitoring her entire human traffic and is perpetuating a massive identity theft, copying passports visas and anything that can be stored digitally for any purpose legal or illegal. The UK, Ireland, France and Germany do the same..but ultimately it is a gigantic fake portrait inviting or forcing you to agree with.
This is far away from the meticulous investigations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson where the reality was dust, blood, stains and some lost handkerchief in a modest local neighborhood in contrast to the third millennium digital globalization.
So putting aside for a moment the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, lets admit that we live in ‘A brave new world’….rewritten in terms of a global digital scanning machinery putting in danger any one of us now or in the future . If the Mossad did the assassination, he knows how to defend himself. We, the ordinary people.. ‘don’t know which way to go…’ .
As a footnote, way not, for us living in the digital era, here is the pixelization of Haifa Whebe and Lady Gaga,
done with the Photoshop threshold tool, reducing them to some binary form… 010001001111..being kept in some dusted mystery house basement. Click to enlarge.
Would it make sense to arrest me for child pornography sent unsolicited to my physical mailbox? No. Would it make sense to arrest me for child pornography sent to my email account by spammers? No. Would it make sense to arrest me for child pornography cached by my browser from a popup on an (otherwise legal) porn site? No. Would it make sense to arrest me for child pornography pre-cached by my browser plugin while visiting a (very sketchy, but perfectly legal) forum about child pornography? No.
Would it make sense to arrest me for purposefully clicking on child pornography? Perhaps yes, but it’s *completely impossible* to separate this case from the others where I, acting as a reasonable law-abiding citizen, had no intention of acquiring illegal material. If you arrest everyone with illegal cache content, sure, the majority were probably criminal perverts, but you’ve also completely trashed the right to be “innocent until proven guilty,” as established by hundreds of years of jurisprudence”…
Using Photoshop in my work as a visual artist, I know how far I can get to make fake pictures from the originals one. I can alter them to my own biases and idiosycrasies. The transformation can be done seamlessly. So, when I found the headline “Faked Photos Alter Real Memories” ( November 26, 2007) I was not surprised. If I transform my drawings to achieve my own view it’s OK. But in the media case, altering photos to get premeditated reactions of the potential viewers is political misleading.
I quote from “Faked Photos Alter Real memories“…”The original Tiananmen Square image was altered to show a crowd watching at the sidelines as a lone man stands in front of a row of tanks. The Rome anti-war protest photograph was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among the crowd of demonstrators. When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred.”…, Look at the pictures,
“It’s potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes, and we ought to be vigilant about it,” said UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who designed the study. “With the addition of a few little upsetting and arousing elements in the Rome protest photo, people remembered this peaceful protest as being more violent than it was, and as a society we have to figure how we can regulate this.”, see here.
I quote from another reading Editor: Photos From Lebanon Can’t Be Trusted ( August 10 2006) …”In Lebanon, where Hezbollah has made widespread use of human shields, firing missiles on Israel from positions dug in next to UN observer posts and within inhabited villages, what the international press has wanted to see and has reported is evidence of Israeli war crimes. Until now, Hezbollah and photographers like Hajj have been able to ensure that they will. Everyone in the news business gets taken for a ride sooner or later. It’s an occupational hazard. What is surprising is the scale of it in Lebanon. And what is tragic about this is, as a Boston Herald photo editor noted, editors everywhere can no longer trust the pictures from Lebanon. The public cannot know what is staged and what is real. They cannot know the true scope of the devastation that Hezbollah’s aggression against Israel and its cynical tactics have brought on the Lebanese people. The con artists have shafted themselves and their own people with their cheap tricks.”… Look at the original an the manipulated photo.
(This is one of the worst use of the Photoshop cloning tool).
From another site look at this altered photo
May 2007: In an advertisement for IMAX 3D theaters promoting the latest Harry Potter movie, the bust of actress Emma Watson was digitally enlarged. A similar advertisement in regular theaters was unaltered. Warner Brothers Pictures released a statement that said “This is not an official poster. Unfortunately this image was accidentally posted on the IMAX website. The mistake was promptly rectified and the image taken down.”, see more.
Another doctored photo from the Telegraph (UK).
…”A magazine owned by a millionaire friend of Nicolas Sarkozy doctored a photograph of the French president to remove his “love handles”, it has been claimed.”…”Paris Match, the celebrity weekly owned by the media mogul Arnaud Lagardere, was said to have applied a computer air brush to the image of Mr Sarkozy to get rid of the unsightly bulges of fat around his waist, which are known as poignées d’amour in French.”…, see more.
And finally here is a ‘Instant Tutorial’ to detect manipulated photos.
From “Computing Photographic Forgeries” (March 24 2007)…”We’ve developed a bag of tricks,” Farid says. “Every time somebody tampers with a photograph, we try to understand what they did and how to detect it.”…” A (nother) way to doctor an image is to piece together two separate photographs. For example, during the 2004 presidential campaign, an image surfaced on the Web showing John Kerry speaking with Jane Fonda at an anti-war demonstration in the 1960s, complete with an Associated Press insignia. Some veterans of the Vietnam War reacted with rage at seeing the presidential candidate sharing a stage with the controversial actress and anti-war activist. But the picture, it turned out, was a fake. “Even after it was determined that it was a fake, people were still talking about Kerry at a war rally,” says Farid. “The power of the images stays with us.”
…”Each latest version of Photoshop has new tools that allow for better forgeries, so Farid continually needs to figure out new methods.
“This is an arms race,” Farid says. “I can already tell you how it’s going to end: We’re going to lose. It’s always going to be easier to create a forgery than detect a forgery. But we’re going to take the power to create forgeries out of the hands of amateurs. We will raise that bar up until you have to be very, very good to do it.”… see more.
Dear reader, here is more on my new article “Visual Lies in Tibet the Gaza Strip and Salvador Dali”.
And before the digital photo age, fake paintings: Van Meegeren’s fake Vermeer’s here is a master forgery Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus by Van Meegeren ,(1937).