Skin devoid of texture

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 8, 2024, 8:32 PM | comments: 0

In a world of 4K video and giant screens, I've noticed in recent years that, unless the filmmakers decide otherwise, that you can see people in a very real way. It's all the little details in a person's skin and hair. It made me think of a talk I saw by film director Robert Rodriguez some years ago, where he calls actor Danny Trejo on stage, and talks about how lighting could show the texture of his skin, scarred by acne and boxing in prison.

But technology of the Internet has mostly erased the authenticity of humans in this sense. Even Zoom, by default, has a "skin smoothing" algorithm turned on. The weird performative nature of social media (which isn't social anymore) means that people seem more interested in showing an inauthentic, literally filtered view of their lives. I'm glad that I'm not dating, because I doubt that any photo is "as is" on the average profile. And it's not just women, it's men too.

This got me to thinking about the intimacy of in-person human contact. There's no hiding when you're sitting across the table from someone. The first time you touch someone, you can feel the texture of the skin, fine hairs, scars and other imperfections. As things go, you'll notice freckles, lines around the eyes or forehead. Humans do not appear plastic in real life. They are organic and beautiful and perfectly imperfect.

Why are people so anxious to hide all of this? I'm not talking about the use of makeup, because aside from some extreme cases, I think that's more about augmentation than it is concealment. (And yes, I know concealer is a thing... work with me here.) The online plasticity of human photos only makes the inauthenticity of it more obvious, disconnecting the scene from reality. I don't care for it.

This is another way that the Internet shows its duality, as both a source of truth and source of complete fantasy.


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