TRM 153
Assignment 1: The Synthetic Image
Due for Critique: Week 5/ September, September 22, 2014

For your first assignment, you will be responsible for generating a synthetic image. As you may already know, all images are synthetic: they are framed, edited, manipulated, and presented to viewers in order to communicate something. That something could be an idea, a product, a set of instructions, a secret, a protest, a critique, a proposition, a new way of seeing things, poetry, or something else entirely.

For this assignment you will use the power of your brain, eyes, computer, and Photoshop CC to incorporate at least THREE different image sources into ONE seamless, synthetic image.

    For critique:
  • Present an image you created using Photoshop CC which seamlessly edits at least three elements into one image. The elements should include (but are not limited to):
  • An appropriated image from a physical book or other media in the library,
  • An appropriated image from a suggested online image database (below),
  • An image from your personal archive;
  • Be able to talk about how you did what you did (technically);
  • You must be able to talk about what, why, and how you did what you did with what you did (conceptually). Some things to think about:
  • What idea are you trying to communicate? What references did you think about when making this work (a story, a current or historical event, a personal experience)? Are you making a statement? Is it a statement of support, critique, wonder, poetry, disgust, frustration, awe, or something else? If your image could communicate one, clear message to your audience; what would it be? If you could embed a secret message in your work, what would it be?
  • Title your work; Provide a bibliography for your source material.

  • Gather images and make multiple print outs (these can be cheap and black and white). Make at least 3 paper mock-ups of something you want to make in your notebook. Use simple collage (cut and paste with scissors and glue).
  • Bring your paper mock ups in your notebooks and digital files of your source images on your laptops (with Photoshop CC) to class. Prior to our next class meeting, please watch the assigned tutorials.
  • Attend the Urban Cinematheque at the Everson Museum Plaza on Friday, August 29 at 7:30pm; featuring a free outdoor screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel and an arts/culture fair. Collect info from at least one org, write about it in your notebook.
  • Watch videos. (links and required chapters below). Take good notes! You will be required to sign up for an account with to view these videos. Start with the 7 day trial through (Following this, I suggest self-organizing with your fellow students to share costs).  
Photoshop CC for Photographers: Fundamentals (Review and Refresh)
Mandatory chapters:Strategies for learning Photoshop (4 mins)
Getting Started with Photoshop (11 mins)
Opening, Saving, and Viewing your photographs (10 mins)
Understanding Digital Images and Resizing (24 mins)

Suggested chapters (most of these are applied in the Compositing course): Cropping Your Photographs
Working with Layers
Improving basic exposure and tone
Making Selections and Adjustments

Photoshop for Photographers: Compositing 
Mandatory chapters:Introduction (3 min)
Combining Expressions (18 mins)
Adding A Subject to a New Environment (51 mins)
Compositing to Improve Composition (51 mins)
Replacing the Sky in an Image (21 mins)
Creating an Imaginative Scene (1 hr)

  • Reading Due: Allen Sekula,The Body and The Archive
  • Work on your project. Review videos as needed. Next week we will have in-progress meetings where you will show me what you did, how you are doing it, and what you want to do in the next two weeks. Remember to save your file often, and back it up. Your final image must contain elements from at least three sources: 1) digital image from a physical book/object that you made, 2) an image from a digital database, and 3) an image from your personal archive.

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