Just a few months ago, Ava Berkofsky explained something that shouldn't have been revelatory, but was: how to properly film black skin. Ms. Berkofsky is the director of photography on the HBO show Insecure and she used a number of lighting and makeup techniques specifically to make sure the black cast looked their best.
The fact that she needed to delve into the topic at all is a result of how film developed. Since the 1940s, Kodak used a system called Shirley Cards that featured white models to adjust the colour accuracy of its film. Consequently, film was always slanted to help white actors look good, while dark-skinned performers were poorly lit.
In one sense, the nature of colour and light on film stemmed from obscure technical decisions. But as a result, dark-skinned people watching film and television have for decades never seen themselves depicted with the same care and range as their fair-skinned counterparts. It is just one more way in which minorities are denied seeing themselves with the fullness and richness of their lives intact.
We often think of technology as a tool or a means to an end. But it is better understood as something that helps us mediate a relationship to the broader world. And if anything, the digital era has exacerbated how tech shapes the way in which we see the world and ourselves. Another recent example: Google's once-obscure Arts and Culture app suddenly went viral after users discovered its ability to match the likeness of selfies they took with famous works of art. It was fun and spread quickly, as everyone posted their matches with various paintings, marvelling at how much they did or did not look like the figures in the paintings chosen by the app.
Read more (The Globe and Mail)