The Beatles without John Lennon

Discovering the power of the image through Photoshop

Kath Weider-Roos is the Creative Arts Producer at A&D. She snaps photos and asks questions.

This image is slightly mind-bending the way it plays tricks with time and history. And, god, it even makes me want to cry! It does all this without using any original art work or words.

What it does use is...Photoshop.

The image was created by a freshman, Chelsea Noel. This is her response to an assignment in Seth Ellis' class, Digital Studio 1, a required course for all A&D students on the fundamentals of digital tools such as Photoshop. Seth's goal in this class was to figure out a way to teach the technical fundamentals of the program while also teaching students about the power of visual communication.

“It is a foundation course after all, " he says. "Drawing is essentially about learning how to look. Photoshop, as a tool for making and manipulating images, can also prompt students into really looking at visual information and examing how meaning is created."

The assignment above asked students to choose an image and then, using a method of erasure, alter the image in a way that significantly changes the meaning of the original.

Coincidentally, Marlene Lacasse also chose to extract a Beatle from Abbey Road. Together these images could set off another fire storm about which Beatle was most important. (Seth has no idea why this image would be hitting a chord with the young people.)


Here's another striking extraction by Hayley Tanisijevich:

I noticed how, even without the central figure, the painting still seems somehow 'pained'.

Here's an even more ominous use of Photoshop by Holly Prouty. Look how easily and perfectly the effects of pollution were erased:


In an act of mercy, perhaps, Samantha Balyeat chose to erase "Hiroshima bombers" from these men's resumés:

Here's the original:



Assignment Two: Insertion

So, "erasure" required students to get familiar enough with Photoshop to use the texture and clone tools, among others. In another exercise, Seth asked the students to alter an exisiting image through insertion.

Marlene Lacasse's insertion effectively depletes all terror from Yves Klein’s famous photo, “Leap into Void”:


The image below is actually of this School of Art & Design back in the 50s. Hayley Tanisijevich's grandfather attended the school and she chose to insert herself into this scene from the past.

Here's the original photo, which she found in the MLibrary Online Archives.

Lonny Marino applied her considerable drawing skills to the exercise. She drew a sketch of herself to insert into this picture in order to suggest an alternative narrative for this poor governess.

Here's the original:



Photoshop is brilliant and scary. Let's hope Seth's students continue to use it as a tool for good and not evil.