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Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Opby Kiku Adatto
Synopses & Reviews
We say that the camera doesn't lie, but we also know that photographs can distort and deceive. In Picture Perfect, Kiku Adatto brilliantly examines the use and abuse of images today; and the increasingly blurred boundaries between news and entertainment, the real and the fake, the person and the pose.
Ranging from network news to YouTube, presidential campaigns to popular culture, media events to movies, and iconic photos to family snapshots, Adatto shows that we live, more than ever, in a world of pictures: an age where political journalism is often nothing more than a kind of theater criticism of the photo op. At the same time, new technologies such as digital photography, Photoshop, cell-phone cameras, the Internet, blogs, and Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook have made it easier than ever to capture, manipulate, and spread images. As these developments have flooded us with images, they have also made us more aware of the artifice of image-making. But, Adatto argues, this self-consciousness hasn't made us any less susceptible to the power of images. We continue to believe in the camera's documentary promise, and to be enthralled, moved, provoked, and manipulated by images as by little else. From the potent pictures of the Iraq War to the battle for control of the picture in political campaigns, Picture Perfect is an incisive and up-to-date look at the unparalleled impact of images on our lives.
"In this engrossing analysis of modern imagery, Adatto chronicles the rise of America's 'photo-op culture' and the explosion of social networking sites, image-conscious photography and the guerrilla war between gaffe-seeking journalists and self-aware politicians. Average citizens are bombarded with so many sleek and produced images a day, they've lost track of authenticity, according to Adatto. Paying particular attention to the photo op's political influence, she compares coverage of the 1968 campaign between Nixon, Humphrey and Wallace with the showdown between Dukakis and Bush in 1988, demonstrating how, in a mere 20 years, photo-ops and sound bites had transformed news. Adatto doesn't delve as heavily into contemporary elections; however, she scrutinizes some of the most well-known images from the invasion of Iraq (George W. Bush posing under the 'Mission Accomplished' banner; the photos of prisoner abuse from Abu Ghraib), and her solid grasp and interpretation of pertinent pop culture from Bogart to Warhol to the films Network and The Truman Show amply compensate for the lapse. This book is an admirable analysis of the role of the image in modern culture and an eloquent defense of why words still matter. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Picture Perfect is perfect. The thoroughness and patience and precision of the research dumbfound me! Kiku Adatto has again provided us with a valuable tool for the continuing assessment of our media."--Walter Cronkite
"Tired of being manipulated by politicians and image consultants? Then read Kiku Adatto's brilliant, revealing book. Picture Perfect is pure consumer protection for good citizens."--Larry J. Sabato, author of A More Perfect Constitution
"Images are more important to our lives, both private and public, than ever before. Kiku Adatto's narrative, rich with evocative details, helps us understand how this has happened, and what it means for our future."--Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone
"Kiku Adatto's Picture Perfect is a book every journalist must read if we are to begin to truly understand ourselves and our world--and if we are to avoid the deadly mistake of Othello, who uncritically believed what he saw."--Bill Kovach, Project for Excellence in Journalism
"With rare insight and acuity, Kiku Adatto dispels the mystifications of a media age in which vital information is obscured by the opportunism of the photo op, and reality is too often the victim of the manipulations of Photoshop. This is an empowering book."--Homi K. Bhabha, author of The Location of Culture
"Picture Perfect is our most elegant, comprehensive, and current study of media and politics. Masterfully weaving together accounts of photographs, movies, television news, and the Internet, Adatto has written a profound reflection on the meaning of images in our public and private lives."--Jeffrey Abramson, author of We, the Jury
We say the camera doesn't lie, but we also know that pictures distort and deceive. In Picture Perfect, Kiku Adatto brilliantly examines the use and abuse of images today. Ranging from family albums to Facebook, political campaigns to popular movies, images of war to pictures of protest. Adatto reveals how the line between the person and the pose, the real and the fake, news and entertainment is increasingly blurred. New technologies make it easier than ever to capture, manipulate, and spread images. But even in the age of the Internet, we still seek authentic pictures and believe in the camera's promise to document, witness, and interpret our lives.
About the Author
Kiku Adatto is a Scholar in Residence at Harvard University's Humanities Center. Her writings on culture, politics, and the media have appeared in many publications, including the "New York Times", the "New Republic"and the "Huffington Post".
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