Bert Monroy's Photoshop Photorealism
At first I thought this was simply a hoax, although on looking into it further I'm cautiously—if provisionally—coming to take it at face value. Bert Monroy, who calls himself a "digital photo-realist artist," says that the picture above, entitled Damen, is a digital "painting" made entirely in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. It's 3 ft. 4 in. wide and 10 feet long, he says, took 2,000 hours to create, and contains more than 50 separate Photoshop files with a grand total of 1,500 layers.
Now, as to the 1,500-layer question of why anyone would spend 2,000 hours doing something a camera can do in 1/250th of a second (okay, I suppose that's being too cute, but you know what I mean), I'm afraid I can't answer that.
Although it does bring up a tangential issue that I've been meaning to mull publicly some bright day: namely, the hidden or semi-hidden effect of demotic web viewing of photographs (or web pictures, in Bert Monroy's case). If this is on the level and not some slippery artsy folderol à la Sherrie Levine or Richard Prince, then I suppose my mistrusting reaction to it is because I think I've seen it but I haven't seen it. That is, I've seen the web page and the tiny little JPEG, which makes me think I've seen the artwork (you too?), but if I'd actually seen the artwork—the 10-foot long print—maybe my reaction would be completely changed.
I thought of this the other day when looking through the work of Tamas Dezso. Many photojournalists and purveyors of photojournalism are understandably reticent about providing large JPEGs online, since the pictures are expensive property that the owners would like to realize a return from. But what this means is that we're stuck squinting at little tiny pixelated representations of pictures that should really be viewed bigger. We're seeing a facsimile, but the facsimile-ness of the facsimile is something that's easy to miss, or at least gloss over. In the case of Damen, it's the same deal—perhaps just more obvious than usual.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON (thanks to Gordon McG.)