Manip

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Synonyms: photo manipulation, photomanip, digital art, computer art
See also: fanart
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Contents

A manip is a photo manipulation, often depicting TV and movie characters in situations different from canon. Manips alter and manipulate the photo source (often a screencap or promo picture) in such a way that it shows something different than it did before. Manips can be used as fanfiction covers, banners, and illustrations. They are also used in vids, icons, and multimedia installations, and of course they can stand on their own as individual artworks.

History

The most well-known manip artists in the mailing list age of online fandom were The Theban Band, with their highly refined and realistic slash manips in several fandoms. Since that time, better tools have also made it easier to produce high quality manips, and DVD source has made it easier to acquire high-quality screencaps. Eventually, more and more fanartists began to create artistic works in this medium.

The first use of a photomanipped image in a fanzine is not known. However, fanzine publisher Kathy Resch remembers that:
...the first pieces of CGA art I published were three pieces by DJW in 1994 in T'hy'la # 15. They accompanied Amanda Warrington's story The Kiss. [1]
From Dribbling Scribbling Women: The History of Our Art:
Kathy also printed the first CGA to be published in K/S fandom. She tells us, “I published several CGAs in T’hy’la 15 (May 1994) to accompany Amanda W’s story ‘The Kiss.’ The CGAs were created by her husband, DJW. I do not know the name of the photo manipulation program he used, but it was the first time I encountered this concept. I visited her during this time and her husband demonstrated the program to me. I was fascinated by what he was able to achieve, and even more so, by the implications of what similar programs would be able to accomplish in the future. I recognized right away that this was a new art form. I knew immediately I wanted to print work of this type as well as traditional hand artwork.

Controversy

External material

Sometimes external material (ie, not a screencap) is used in a photomanip. In the 1990s when this kind of fanart first began to appear, it occasionally was referred to derisively as "head replacement pictures" (My hed iz pastede on yay) implying that no great artistic skill was needed to create photomanips. Other fans felt uncomfortable about explicit manips because they appeared to be too close to RPF[2][3], especially when the "base" pictures used were of the actor, not the character.

Pros and Cons

In 1999, a fan wrote that she didn't consider this sort of artwork "real":
I think I’ve only seen computer generated work by this artist, so it was a treat to see an actual drawing of Alison’s... I vastly appreciate and enjoy this drawing over any computerized photos, partially because, no matter how expertly done, I’m always aware that it’s photos put together and it doesn’t exist. [4]
A fan in 2001 wrote:
The 'ugh' factor brings me to my soapbox topic, something I've been thinking about for a while. I refer to computer-manipulated photographs. Most of the ones I've come across have been in Sentinel fandom, and many are beautiful images, but I have also seen some really explicit shots where the very recognisable actors' heads have been superimposed on bodies in very, very explicit poses. This really is beginning to worry me, as it seems an extension of actor slash. Somehow artwork never seems so bad, as it is obviously a work of imagination and creation; there used to be a comment in the early K/S days that a picture was a very good Kirk, but not much like Shatner. The dividing line seemed so much clearer. What do others think, especially given that the photo manipulations could be picked up by outsiders? Is it fair to the actors? [5]
Another fan in 2001 drew a different sort of line:
I have only seen these in K/S and XF. I am not a fan of ones where the head is stuck on someone else's body, not because I ever considered the unfairness to the actor, but simply because you can tell at once that the body is not Kirk or Mulder or whoever. As [name redacted] said, a lot of very muscular porn-type bodies are used, and thats not the character's. If it's the character or even the actor you like, why would you want to change the bodies that attracted you? Its like those people who say they love a character and then proceed to rape and generally put him through hell. As [name reacted] said, maybe it's to show their strength but I don't like it. But back to the pix, I only like ones that manipulate scenes from the series and look more natural. Two of my favourites are XF. One is a pic where Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) was hamming it up for the cameras at some do by kissing Robert Patrick (Doggett) on the cheek - this was manipulated by changing RP for David D. Another one is of an off-duty Pileggi with his arm around DD who is holding up his hand to show his wedding ring. These two bodies were taken from separate photos but blended seamlessly. Giving these examples I've just realised I prefer manipulated pix that show affection and love rather than explicit scenes. [6]
In 2002,a fan had this to say:
I think it's totally cool that photo manipulations are being used more and more in K/S zines. It's definitely an art form not to be ignored. I hope the trend continues and other editors follow suit to keep K/S current with the times. [7]
In 2006, a fan wrote:
photo manips I find hard to look at, especially when they're quite explicit. I think it crosses a bit too far into infringing on the actors somehow... Can't help but wonder how they'd feel if they saw an actual photo of themselves like that - drawings seem less real somehow, but maybe I'm just being old-fashioned about that... [8]
In 2008, a fan extolls Photoshop and how it can make anyone an artist:
I do agree with you that CGAs/CGIs are a new phase for fandom and I'm forever grateful I stumbled onto the means to create them. I am the furthest thing from an artist, and yet I am able to bring bits from here and bits from there together so we can see Kirk and Spock in situations and poses that we might not otherwise see. It's the most fun I've ever had! I can remember looking at pictures of K&S in magazines back in the 80's and thinking, if only they were standing closer together, if only Kirk had his hand on Spock's shoulder, if only, if only... Photoshop has made this possible not only for me but for anyone who wants to give it a try. I'm amazed and delighted by it all and knowing it brings excitement to another K/S lover makes it all the more thrilling. [9]

Crossing the Streams

It is generally considered bad fannish behavior to show sexually explicit or nude photomanips of characters to the actors who play them, as it is considered creepy. It is usually a third party, not the actual photomanip artist, who decides it would be a good idea to do this. The Theban Band has been especially visible in this regard.

Examples of different styles and fandoms

References

  1. Kathy's comment in Even Today Dinosaurs Roam The Earth Part III, a locked post dated September 9, 2012, quoted with permission.
  2. Michelle Christian. RPS, Boybands, and Dead Guy RPS posted 06/21/03 (accessed 3 Jan 2010)
  3. Justine. I Don't Believe in Real People posted 03/04/03 (accessed 3 Jan 2010)
  4. from The K/S Press #35
  5. from DIAL #18
  6. from DIAL #19
  7. from The K/S Press #66
  8. by byslantedlight at CI5hq
  9. from The K/S Press #145
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