The Anamorphic Lens of Digitally Altered Perfection

  • Contexts • Issues and Debates • Visual Methods • Practice-Research • Materials

Studies have indicated that viewers exposed to digitally manipulated or filtered images showed an increased body objectification consciousness and lower self-esteem than those who are not. (Harrison & Hefner, 2014) This project will aim to communicate the effects of this and others surrounding the anamorphic mirror using methods that may shock but more importantly communicate what is going on underneath the surface of digitally altered perfection and the effects this is having on the signifier and the signified.

One of the things I would like to explore during this final phase of work is how a mixture of methods, illustration, photography and non-conventional materials used in conjunction with unique application techniques communicate complex issues that cannot be achieved conventionally, (naturally). And with good reason, just as excessive digital manipulation results in outcomes that cannot be achieved naturally (conventionally) encourage disturbing behaviors in viewers such as eating disorders and low self-esteem, the campaign will best serve the issues and debates surrounding the topic of filtered perfection using visual language that will provoke awareness and consideration.

As illustrated in the juxtaposition below, you see elements totally unrelated to each other, yet in conjunction to the research, they take on an interrelationship that cannot be denied.


Positioning work in this manner may indicate (1) the filtered subject-self-object and the signified viewer and how the comparison matrix can be internalized or (2) the filtered subject-self-object and what the self sees of themselves after being accustomed to their appearance filtered and the psychological effects of how they view themselves without the use of filters. Both scenarios have contributed to an epidemic of plastic surgery in youth and psychological disorders such as dysmorphia. “Plastic surgeons are reporting that patients are coming to them with selfies of themselves edited using the filters on Snapchat or Instagram and asking to look more like the retouched photo.” (Wolfson, 2018)

It makes sense that a non-conventional approach to practice- research and experimentation will best communicate a visually original outcome. One that will convey the relationship between mass media and the disturbing psychological behaviors that rise out of social comparison and exposure to the perfect body, how this is processed by the viewer, resulting in increased self-objectified body consciousness, and decreased measures of self-esteem, and how that looks in  light of this study.


Fig. 1 Wierzbicki, H ( 2013) Acrylic Painting “Perfect Bliss” [online] available at: accessed 06-04-2019

Fig 2. Gesichfer, M. (2010) Acrylic Painting “Wo bleibt die U-Bahn” Claudia Farber Galerie [online] available at: accessed 03-04-2019

Harrison, K., & Hefner, V. (2014). Virtually perfect: Image retouching and adolescent body image. Media Psychology, 17, 134–153.

Wolfson, S. (2018) Snapchat photo filters linked to rise in cosmetic surgery requests. The Guardian.

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