Manipulating eyes and politics

The mind plays tricks on us. You can’t always trust what you see at first glance. Learning how you see is valuable. One method is, the gestalt effect. It ‘is the capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (wiki).’ The basic components are points, lines, and curves with:

  • Similarity
  • Continuation
  • Closure
  • Proximity
  • Figure/Ground
  • Symmetry and order
  • Read more about the theory

I selected this image from my Facebook feed as an example of manipulative and false images. What captured my attention at first was the odd mix of religion and sports in a political context. In this presidential campaign season, mixed images are everywhere!

  • Big leader in a power pose
  • Sea of people
  • Surreal / Photoshopped image
  • No credible attribution

This image of Berny Sanders stuck out to me because it is different from others. He is wearing more casual clothing. The size of the crowd and arena is very surreal. On closer inspection I noticed that the Facebook image had no linked source. Curious about when and where the photo what taken I did a google image search.  

I found an exact match to a Tumbler blog site where again there was no attribution to the photo, but there was a comment about the large crowds at his March 2016 rally in Salt Lake City. A quick search for news from that event revealed that this image was not taken there because Bernie dressed differently. In taking a closer look, I realized that it was two images collaged together. Becuase of the similarity, continuity and desire for the closure of the area, the two pictures merge into one. Also, the drastic difference in scale between the crowd and the projection of Bernie make the smaller differences between the crowd shots less noticeable. By doing a google search for the top section, I immediately found a match and photo credit in an LA times article from August of 2015. The bottom from Bernies time in Portland. What more, the original images show the real perspective of the journalist’s viewpoint, and scale of the audience. The text in the top photo is actually mirrored and that indicates he is behind the projection.