The camera never lies – or does it?



The advances in technology are seen in all areas of the arts, special effects in film and theatre, music and also in the field of art. Since its invention the camera has divided debate as to whether it is in fact 'Art'. For many years in their early days many galleries refused to display photographs.

Times have moved on since then and there are exhibitions of artwork on in many of the world's top art galleries. Manipulating pictures has been present ever since the earliest days, but back then they were done during the developing process.

Since the advent of digital photography and computers being used in image production and desktop publishing the ability to manipulate and change images has never been the same. The saying 'The camera never lies' now holds no truth. It is possible with very cheap and accessible software to edit pictures and cut things out, placing in completely incongruous situations. Many people enjoy playing around with this aspect of image manipulation using computers but there have been a number of instances, somewhat more sinister, where images have been doctored to attempt to change truth.

Can Computers Paint?

Computer scientists have been trying for many years in the field of Artificial Intelligence to try to programme a machine to be creative. The quality that separates humans from machines is the ability to have original thought – essential for activities such as painting or drawing. Computers can not 'think' for themselves, their hardware helps them receive and output and software tells the hardware how to process ones and zeros.

Although image software has been able to take existing photographs and convert them to into drawings or paintings for some time, computer scientists have failed to create a computer programme that can produce images from a 'virtual imagination'. Recently there have been claims that this has now been achieved with 'Painting Fool', which is not producing masterfully polished pieces of art but to many, it's proof that a computer program can be a creative being.

The program is the creation of Dr. Simon Colton, a computer scientist at Imperial College London. Why many in the field of Artificial Intelligence feel this is particularly exciting is because the program doesn't work from an existing digital image. Instead, it produces images that are created from the Artificial Intelligence equivalent of imagination.

Paint without paint!

The ability to paint and draw with computers is also a growing field. Paint programmes have been around since the early days of personal computers and as the technology has advanced so have the array of effects and tricks available to the user. To many, it is not considered real 'art' but since the advent of touch screen technology and tablet computing many established artists are beginning to experiment with it. Recently David Hockney put on an exhibition of artwork produced exclusively on the iPad.

Read the BBC article on 'David Hockney's instant iPad art' by clicking the link below,

David Hockney's instant iPad art

The LGfL Creative Toolkit offers a range of image creation tools for children to explore how to 'paint without paint' on a computer.

Teacher Notes


Activity - Build a Stylus


Build a Stylus (Illustrated)