My Mom recently expressed exasperation at a toothy magazine cover of Oprah Winfrey. “She’s the same age as me, so why doesn’t she have bags under her eyes and everything else?” The answer is, of course, the vanity tag-team of plastic surgery and photo airbrushing! Thanks to Evan Roth, a senior fellow at the Eyebeam OpenLab, my mom can soon see EXACTLY where Oprah’s eye baggage is hidden. Roth’s project, DeTouch, uses the open-source technology, Processing, to deconstruct magazine retouching pixel by pixel. Using before and after photos, DeTouch uses algorithms to map the precise aspects of the “before” photo that were deleted, added or changed by the retouch artist. This program is an essential media literacy tool, especially for young women who might put their natural bodies at harm to mimic the fantasy world that gleaming glossy magazine covers create. With scary television shows that treat plastic surgery treatments to be as blasé and normal as buying a new pair of shoes, DeTouch provides a reality check that we all desperately need.
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