At TEDGlobal, UK artist Alison Jackson raised eyebrows with her brilliant faked celebrity photographs — the Queen in bed with her corgis, Diana and Dodi with a baby they never had — pictures so disturbingly realistic they could fool fans and family alike. Jackson’s images are manipulated the old-fashioned way (they’re staged with celebrity doubles) but they raised again that digital-era question: In the age of Photoshop, can you believe your eyes?
The issue goes beyond the tabloids. Following last month’s revelation that Korean researcher Dr. Hwang Woo Suk faked evidence of cloning human stem cells, scientific journals are also standing guard against digitally manipulated images. In fact, The Journal of Cell Biology has put in place a systematic method of analyzing digital files, so they can smoke out traces of Photoshop forgery. This New York Times piece examines the methods of manipulation (Can’t clone cells? Just use the “clone stamp” tool!) and the fancy footwork needed to detect the deception.