FOUR DAYS AGO, in the wee morning hours of September 11th – purely by accident I assure you! – I wandered onto “The Huffington Post.”
On their front page was an image of the New York skyline prior to the attacks.
It was presented as a photomosaic. And it made me think.
I’d like to reproduce it here but my attorney mentioned that might be poking Ariachna with a stick. Oh, nevermind – look, I found it elsewhere. Ah, there’s the story behind it too. It’s a good story and an important story, and this particular photomosaic gets a pass from me. I do not have a problem with this photomosaic. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: What kind of monster do you think I am?
But as to nearly all other photomosaics:
When photomosaics first came out in the early 1990s, they were interesting to look at specifically because they were comprised of a bunch of photos carefully arranged in such a way that when you looked at it from far enough back, the images blended naturally – yes, organically! – to form a larger image.
Oh, but then they got popular, and it became too complicated or time-consuming or un-cost-effective, or cost-ineffective I guess is the word, or something to keep doing that; and so what they’ve been doing – the photomosaic people in the photomosaic industry (and brother, believe you me, it’s an industry!) – what they’ve been doing since then is they simply take a bunch of little photos, and then drop, I don’t know, some sort of slightly translucent screen over it with the image they want you to see and in the process tinting nearly all the smaller images artificially.
In other words, it’s cheating!
Here’s a perfect example, from the box of a Snoopy photomosaic jigsaw puzzle:
Most of the tiny pictures from this line of Peanuts puzzles are made up of screen grabs from the animated specials. So unless there was one called “You’re in Hell, Charlie Brown,” Snoopy’s dog house is composed of images that have just been colored red.
If photomosaics hadn’t been created so precisely and carefully when this technique first debuted, I wouldn’t have a problem with where we are today, photomosaically speaking. But the fact is, they were. The genie’s out of the bottle. We can’t go back, folks. Originally, there was a level of craftsmanship among the early photomosaic artisans. And whether they meant to or not, they’d set a precedent. The public justifiably had and has a certain level of expectation. When they started doing photomosaics nearly twenty years ago, the larger image may not have been too detailed, but it worked, dammit, and it was real neat to look at on account of the images making it were untouched. Unmanipulated. Pure.
But now? Oh, now just arrange any picture next to any other goddamn picture, repeat this a few thousand times, drop your larger image over the whole mess, dick around with the opacity, and call it a day.
It disgusts me.
When did we lose our way, America?