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It is a long-held truism that "the camera does not lie." Yet, as Mia Fineman argues in this illuminating volume, that statement contains its own share of untruth. While modern technological innovations, such as Adobe's Photoshop software, have accustomed viewers to more obvious levels of image manipulation, the practice of "doctoring" photographs has in fact existed since the medium was invented. In Faking It, Fineman demonstrates that today's digitally manipulated images are part of a continuum that begins with the earliest years of photography, encompassing methods as diverse as overpainting, multiple exposure, negative retouching, combination printing, and photomontage. Among the book's revelations are previously unknown and never before published images that document the acts of manipulation behind two canonical works of modern photography: one blatantly fantastical (Yves Klein's Leap into the Voidof 1960); the other a purportedly unadulterated record of a real place in time (Paul Strand's City Hall Parkof 1915). Featuring 160 captivating pictures created between the 1840s and 1990s in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, and commerce, Faking Itprovides an essential counterhistory of photography as an inspired blend of fabricated truths and artful falsehoods.
Mia Fineman is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.