Processed Pictures, Photoshop, and Unsharp Mask
The project presented here examines techniques and practices of digital image processing using the consumer application Adobe Photoshop as an example. My study aims at a theory of contemporary visual culture that addresses digital images in their distinct quality of being processed pictures instead of in general terms or abstract notions of digitality. To achieve this goal, I will conduct an in-depth investigation of Photoshop at the levels of both the cultural layer of interfaces and uses, and the computational layer of code and data structures. Using the methodologies of software studies and media archaeology, the project will give a first comprehensive account of Photoshop as one of the most influential tools for the production of digital culture. I illustrate the application of the software studies approach to image processing by giving a short but exemplary analysis of Photoshop’s popular Unsharp Mask feature.