The talk that Professor Sheehan gave on “the visual culture of plastic surgery” was fascinating. It was an interesting topic in the ‘human/nature’ theme, as she compared the ‘natural’ versus the ‘artificial’ rather than making comparing between the physical world that usually includes plants and animals, and human beings like most previous lectures have.
It was very interesting to notice the prominence of medical concepts in digital manipulation. For instance, many of the tools are medicalized (e.g. “healing brush,” “slimming effect”), and the idea of ‘fixing’ something to become closer to the ‘ideal’ is an idea that is identical to that of plastic surgery. I like how Professor Sheehan alluded to the fact that plastic surgery (permanent physical manipulation), make up (temporary physical manipulation) and Photoshop (digital manipulation of the external appearance) all come from the same ideas and motivations, through the mockery commercial, “Fotoshop by Adobé.”
During the discussion session after the lecture, Professor Fleming brought up an interesting point: plastic surgery, or all these other manipulations that we make to our physical appearances are do not just come from the motivation to ‘be seen,’ but often times could come from the motivation to ‘not be seen’ (i.e. blend in, not stand out, or become invisible). The increase in latter motivation could be a more dangerous one—the need to change your physical appearance in order to become ‘normal’ (vs. wanting to stand out) and fit into the crowd seems more destructive to the society.