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Jennifer in Paradise
June 19, 2014 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Its subject is Knoll's then-girlfriend Jennifer, topless on the beach in Bora Bora, gazing out at To'opua island. The young couple worked together at Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm's special-effects company, and were enjoying some well-earned R&R after working 70-hour weeks on the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Looking back, Jennifer says: "It was a truly magical time for us. My husband actually proposed to me later on in the day, probably just after that photo." Little wonder that John would name the photo Jennifer in Paradise.
If you were around when Photoshop was first released, you know the image, as it was the first photoshopped image in the world and use in a lot of the early demos for the programme. Bonus: for the twentieth anniversary release of Photoshop 1.0, John Knoll replicates the demos he used to do to sell Photoshop to Adobe.
posted by MartinWisse (37 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fake. I could totally see the pixels man.
posted by pipeski at 12:14 PM on June 19


The idea captured the interest of Dutch artist Constant Dullaart, who rebuilt the picture from screenshots of the video and made it the centrepiece of his new London show, Stringendo, Vanishing Mediators. "Given its cultural significance," he says, "just from an anthropological point of view I thought it would be interesting to examine what values the image contains. The fact that it's a white lady, topless, anonymous, facing away from the camera. And that it was his wife. He offers her, objectifying her, in his creation for the reproduction of reality."

Layers upon layers.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:22 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]


I had always thought Photoshop was derived from big animation/effects computers at ILM/Pixar, but I guess it was just the marketing guy that worked there who happened to have a smarty-pants academic brother back home. Though, I suppose Jennifer in Paradise is evidence that the marketing guy was also smarty-pants. Thanks for posting!
posted by bluefly at 12:29 PM on June 19


The description of the photo just keeps making me think of this.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:33 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Good to see that. The Knolls negotiated a royalty agreement for the sale of PhotoShop through Adobe, which turned out to be a huge win for the Knolls. I remember sitting in on quarterly meetings where the earnings for software products were being discussed and whenever they showed the numbers for PhotoShop, I heard a cash register ka-ching sound in my head on behalf of the deal that would never, ever exist again.
posted by plinth at 12:38 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


If the image was so ubiquitous why is Dullaart complaining about it being so difficult to find a copy other than a blurry screen grab? And why would it be presumed that we are all familiar with it?
posted by yoink at 12:42 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of Barton Fink.
posted by benzenedream at 12:53 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


wasn't there a story about the first color scanner using some playboy centerfold as well.

Ah, Lenna.. Interesting to see the hoops jumped through to justify using the image there and here, I guess..
posted by k5.user at 12:54 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Lenna was the first thing that popped into mind. Second was gee, I wonder if there's any kind of institutional sexism problem in tech...
posted by kmz at 1:03 PM on June 19 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I was reading an (older) image processing .pdf recently and they used Lenna's image. I was wondering if anyone has written a paper/done a presentation recently using the image of some big ol' muscly guy. "Yeah, going forward we'll try to stay away from this kind of stuff, but we're going to push down on this end of the balance for a little while, just so we can all understand the feeling."
posted by benito.strauss at 1:14 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Ehh, using a vacation snapshot in one project some twenty years after somebody else used a cropped head shot of a Playboy model does not institutional sexism make.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:18 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Ehh, using a vacation snapshot in one project some twenty years after somebody else used a cropped head shot of a Playboy model does not institutional sexism make.

Yeah--which is not to say that there isn't institutionalized sexism in tech (because, well, duh)--but this seems a really strained example. Guy used his own holiday snap in some early demos of Photoshop? A photograph that actually hardly anyone seems to have seen or talked about or reused (I just did some Googling on "Jennifer in paradise" and all you seem to pull up is this Guardian article and Dullaart's work)? This really seems like going a loooong way out of your way to find examples of "shock, horror, objectification in the very DNA of a tech world icon!" when it's actually pretty anodyne stuff.
posted by yoink at 1:25 PM on June 19


Maybe I'm dense, but how was this image altered?
posted by dhens at 1:34 PM on June 19


Maybe I'm dense, but how was this image altered?

The image they show is the unaltered image. He used it in early Photoshop Demos to show some of the ways you could us PS to alter images. If you watch the video you get to see him recreate the kinds of demos he used to do (cloning the woman, cloning the island etc.).
posted by yoink at 1:39 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


(Yeah, watch the video. It's instructive. I didn't know you could use the Magic Wand tool to refine your Lasso tool selection!)
posted by notyou at 1:43 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm dense, but how was this image altered?

Um. This is what it looked like before photoshopping.

Also. Yes, maybe she is topless. Maybe. But since you can't even see her breasts it's just a titillating come on, isn't it.
posted by the webmistress at 1:51 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


... twenty years after somebody else used a cropped head shot of a Playboy model ...

Except that's not a valid description. To quote the Wikipedia article:
Lenna or Lena is the name given to a standard test image widely used in the field of image processing since 1973. ...

This scan became one of the most used images in computer history.[5] In a 1999 issue of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing "Lena" was used in three separate articles,[6] and the picture continued to appear in scientific journals throughout the beginning of the 21st century.[4] Lenna is so widely accepted in the image processing community that Söderberg was a guest at the 50th annual Conference of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology (IS&T) in 1997.[7] ...

To explain Lenna's popularity, David C. Munson, editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, noted that it was a good test image because of its detail, flat regions, shading, and texture. However, he also noted that its popularity was largely because an image of an attractive woman appealed to the males in a male-dominated field.[9]
I'm going to defer to the editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing on this one.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:55 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Except that's not a valid description

Er, what bit of your Wikipedia quotation suggests that it wasn't "a cropped head shot of a Playboy model"?
posted by yoink at 2:06 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm dense...
posted by dhens
Wait a second...
posted by yoink at 2:15 PM on June 19 [7 favorites]


I've been using Photoshop pretty much every day since version 2.5 and I've never seen this image before.

I feel... shortchanged somehow...
posted by jalexei at 2:29 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I guess I need to quote the whole thing:
Ehh, using a vacation snapshot in one project some twenty years after somebody else used a cropped head shot of a Playboy model does not institutional sexism make.
"twenty years after" makes it sound like Lena's use only happened once. The WP quote shows that its use was on-going over an extended period. The "Ehh .. does not institutional sexism make" is dismissive of the idea of institutional sexism. The WP quote shows that the deepest of insiders recognized it was male-dominated.

Mind you, I'm concentrating on MartinW's dismissive reaction w.r.t. Lena, not Jennifer. But I certainly see how one follows on the other. Do you not?

Your description of his choice as "Guy used his own holiday snap in some early demos of Photoshop" ignores all the possible choices he could have made and what was considered in-bounds and out-of-bounds. It's rather disingenuous.

I agree that "shock, horror, objectification in the very DNA of a tech world icon!" is a far step, but I don't know who said that, or where you got that quote from. I couldn't find it anywhere in the articles (though I do always have comments disabled), and I couldn't find it anywhere on Google (or Bing, even). Where did it come from?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:39 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


I was a PhotoMac guy myself. We just changed waterproof watches dropped in aquariums from gold to silver.
posted by hal9k at 2:45 PM on June 19


"twenty years after" makes it sound like Lena's use only happened once.

Not to me.

Your description of his choice as "Guy used his own holiday snap in some early demos of Photoshop" ignores all the possible choices he could have made and what was considered in-bounds and out-of-bounds. It's rather disingenuous.


You mean like the Pixar image he also used at the same time, for example?

What's "disingenuous" here is the strained attempt to read the "Jennifer in paradise" image as analogous to the "Lenna" image. The "Lenna" image was, in fact, widely used, widely seen and is interestingly indicative of "institutionalized sexism" in the tech world. The "Jennifer in paradise" image was simply not. It's a non-porn shot of this guy's wife that he happened to use for a few early demos of "things Photoshop can do." It's not worth analyzing the forces that drove him to choose this image over another because the image had so little cultural weight or cultural resonance. The only person who has significantly "objectified" Jennifer and worked hard to present her "topless" body to a wider public is the artist Dullaart.
posted by yoink at 2:54 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


The photo editing software I used in college in 1987 had the silhouette of a woman dancing across one screen... what was that, Toast? My teacher and I, both women, were displeased. The story was that the woman on the screen was one of the developers -- I don't know if that makes it better or worse.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:54 PM on June 19


Sorry, yoink, but I'm trying to follow who you're reacting to. Can you tell where your quote "shock, horror, objectification in the very DNA of a tech world icon!" came from?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:05 PM on June 19


Can you tell where your quote "shock, horror, objectification in the very DNA of a tech world icon!" came from?

Sorry, I didn't realize that was a serious question: I'm not quoting anybody's actual, specific words; I'm paraphrasing the position of people like Dullaart.
posted by yoink at 3:13 PM on June 19


You don't have to think that the use of this image is sexist -- hey, I think it's kind of sweet that he used a picture of his future wife! -- to think, "Great, [eyeroll], another male technologist, another 'iconic' image of an attractive woman used to illustrate his technical work."
posted by Ralston McTodd at 3:17 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]




Well that's not the demo he gave me, along with an early beta (0.93b I think). He had some digitally rendered 3D stills for animatics for the SFX from The Hunt for Red October, executed in Swivel. He had some crude 3D models of submarines in various positions, and showed his Displacement tool to measure distances (I think that feature got pulled from the 1.0 release and never came back).
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:26 PM on June 19


@benito.strauss: Here's a recent publication by two female authors that uses a picture of Fabio in place of Lena, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1202.6429v9.pdf

Also, I get the impression some commenters think that Lena is an outdated phenomenon, but I can assure you she still shows up frequently in current image processing publications. For example, searching Google Scholar for "lena image" in articles since 2010 brings up thousands of hits.
posted by eeriegongs at 7:11 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Lenna was the first thing that popped into mind.

You are obviously not a serious, long term Photoshop user, or the first thing that popped into your head would have been Ole No Moire. I haven't looked lately, does it still ship with Photoshop?

This sort of image of a woman if known in the trade as a "Shirley." Sometimes you can see a single frame of a Shirley in the leader of a 35mm theatrical film, so the film could be checked to see it was a properly duplicated print. The model was often was a redhead, as their hair and skin tones were considered especially difficult to capture. Obviously Adobe was poking fun at the Shirley image when they did their Ole No Moire image.

There are plenty of other color reference targets,, I am rather old school so I have always used the most boring of all, the Kodak Q-13. I see it used constantly in document capture for rare books and other work done on a copystand.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:38 PM on June 19


charlie don't surf: This sort of image of a woman if known in the trade as a "Shirley." Sometimes you can see a single frame of a Shirley in the leader of a 35mm theatrical film, so the film could be checked to see it was a properly duplicated print.

Previously on Metafilter as China Girls.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:10 PM on June 19


You don't have to think that the use of this image is sexist -- hey, I think it's kind of sweet that he used a picture of his future wife! -- to think, "Great, [eyeroll], another male technologist, another 'iconic' image of an attractive woman used to illustrate his technical work."


I might very well roll those eyes had I not read this link, given the "Shirley" phenomenon mentioned above and so much more. But knowing the story it's hard to keep thinking about that since it seems to be a real tribute to Jennifer and a moment of much deeper importance to both photographer and subject.
posted by atoxyl at 9:17 PM on June 19


"Jennifer In Paradise"?

Man, I wish.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:40 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


To be precise, if you believe John Knoll, and I see no reason not to, he used that image of his wife because that was the only thing he had at hand when he needed to digitise a picture to use in photoshop, so it's largely coincidence. The picture is not prurient unless you believe any picture of a partialy naked woman is prurient (so American. Much puritan. Wow) and as the video shows is reasonably useful for that sort of demo.

The Lena image is more problematic; still not porn though derived from a porn magazine, again something that was at hand when needed but you have to wonder why a lab has porn magazines lying around in the first place.

Where the true sexism comes in is in the repeated use of Lena and other such images for testing purposes. There are good reasons to use pictures of people for this sort of test because obviously you need to make sure your colours are right for depicting humans, but the almost universal use of pretty women, even if the images themselves are not objectable does speak to an industry that thinks of both itself and its customers as male and women only as objects of tittilation. Which is of course a bog standard attitude in far too many tech fields.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:54 PM on June 19


I never heard the term China Girls before that MeFi story, which is so long ago you have to retrieve the links from the Wayback Machine.

Most of the archived stories of the origin of the term seem to be anecdotes from modern film techs going back no farther than the 80s. Maybe they called it by that term, but the photographers I knew, and the really old school film techs called it Shirley. This type of image has been a standard in the industry ever since color film prints started to be mass produced in methods like Technicolor from multiple films that had to be kept in registration. So we're talking the 1920s and even earlier.

So the use of women as test photos is not at all a sign of sexism in tech. It's a tradition in the cinema and photography world, going back a hundred years, so far back the origin is lost in obscurity. Generations of film techs learned to calibrate negatives from these images. I myself learned to check the color balance of individual CMKY halftone films from Ole No Moire, usually the magenta plate was the most troublesome and I could take one look at the B&W halftoned M film and see instantly if the color balance was good and whether I needed to check them on the densitometer.

I heard one really good story about these women as test images. The way I heard it, the cinematographers for Star Trek TOS were doing some costume and makeup check films on an alien women with green skin. But when the films came back from processing, her skin was normal flesh tone. The makeup artists couldn't figure it out, so they made her even deeper green and shot it again. And still the films came back flesh tone. So they called the film processor. The processing techs thought the green was a color timing error by the cinematographer, so they color corrected the work print of the green alien back to normal flesh tone that matched the other actors on the reel. LOL.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:20 PM on June 20


News Flash: Men who invent technologies and software for capturing and manipulating images like to use images that... appeal to men! (Straight men, anyway).

Shocka!

Don't like it? Don't use the machines and programs that they invented. No one's putting a gun to your head, after all.
posted by TSOL at 3:59 PM on June 21


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