HP “Slimming” Feature – Comedy, Accessibility, Social Commentary?

Select HP digital cameras can now make subjects look skinny. Seriously. Check out this link to the ‘slimming feature’ on the HP site.

So let’s contextualize this. In advertising photography image makers go to incredible (sometimes ridiculous) lengths to maximize how great a product or lifestyle should look. Put the zippiest finish on this image or that. Photoshop is the tool of choice here, noting it’s ubiquity and massive success. Professionals use it all the time–nearly every advertising image uses Photoshop in some capacity. It is an amazing tool. (Side note: I was recently hanging out with Thomas Knoll, the inventor and lead developer of Photoshop at a recent conference where we were both speakers…AMAZING guy. Literally talked to me about quantum physics in his descriptions of various Photoshop features…) Sorry to digress.

So, no debate, right?, image retouching has a significant role in advertising photography. Industry pros understand this. And I think most adult consumers are at least mildly aware (however what we choose to do with that knowledge differs widely).

But what about this new camera move by HP?? Average consumers can now make their subject skinny as a feature BUILT INTO THEIR CAMERA! Wow.

When I first saw this, I was at once humored, horrified, sympathetic, curious, shocked, confused and indifferent. It seems that the virtual permissions we have–as a culture–granted advertisers (perhaps willingly or inadvertently) to create images of products or lifestyles that ebb and flow with reality, has now transcended from big screens and the glossy pages of magazines into the family photo album.

No value judgment here. Just interesting. (Thanks Seth Godin for the link to the camera.)

7 Responses to HP “Slimming” Feature – Comedy, Accessibility, Social Commentary?

  1. Carson Blume November 10, 2006 at 9:09 pm #

    Great! now teenage girls can have even more issues with their weight. I can hear it now, “the diet camera.” geez

  2. Chase Jarvis November 11, 2006 at 2:39 am #

    And for more on referencing reality, check out the concept of simulacra put forward by the earliest postmodern writers (read Deleuze, Nietzsche, Baudrillard) where a copy of somthing (in this case the digital image) “becomes” more real and removed and ultimately not based the thing it was originally “copied” from (read the teenage girls).

    Or take for example your remembrance of your second birthday. Is your memory of the actual event or, more likely, of the photos you’ve seen of the event?

    Talk about distancing ourselves from ourselves!!! This little camera is certainly playing with these concepts without even knowing it.

  3. admin September 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    WOW!! This brings up a very interesting conversation Chase. “Is your memory of the actual event or, more likely, of the photos you’ve seen of the event?”

    I find myself thinking back to the “days” and mostly memories of my past birthdays, graduation, little league games, really any major event in my life and realize that my memories are a mixture of real-life memories that stored in the massive hard-drive in my head, along with pictures in my head of pictures that I have looked at in the years gone by. It’s really a giant ‘photo/video/memory-collage’ of every medium available of that event. What does this do to oneself as we are living our life at the age of, lets say 6, 12, 18, 21 (minus the mass consumption of alcohol and/or drugs with the years gone by)? Does anyone really know who they are or what they really look like? Sorry to have brought this into a more psychological comment, but what I mean to stress here is the impact that photographs have as a historic documentation sense. Two-hundred years from now when some of my future decedents a decide to join their local genealogy group and are wondering why they ‘genetically’ obese and none of their ancestors were. (NOTE: I am only stating this for conversation sake, I do not state this as a means to ‘poke-fun’ or criticize any body type).

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