By Dave Marquard
I had attended forty consecutive AWS Welding/Fabtech Shows until the streak was snapped a few weeks ago because of an important meeting elsewhere I had to attend. No one can physically be in two places at the same time, although today’s technology allows us to “beam up” our presence from afar via electronic robot cameras. It’s a technology my companies are investing heavily in because of the immense potential it has for allowing us to dramatically cut travel and expense costs.
In my absence from physically being at Fabtech I thought a lot about what I missed most about it. I missed walking the aisles, meeting people and seeing the latest welding technologies a lot—but oddly enough I also missed the entertaining shows I often found while walking those aisles—especially the magicians hired by companies to attract people to their booths.
Many magic tricks are based on illusions. The magician makes you think you saw something that didn’t happen. The hand is quicker than the eye, and artful magicians use distraction to their advantage in creating illusions that befuddle even the most observant individuals.
My background and training as a cop probably makes me more observant than most. Even today, decades since I left policework, I still notice open doors, broken windows, people in industrial uniforms, anything that might seem out of place as I drive through neighborhoods. Is everything really what it seems to be?
Can you trust what your eyes are telling you? Not always. Take how photoshop is used today to change and alter perceptions in advertising. The answer is that you have to understand the technology behind what you are seeing to trust your own lying eyes.
A good example is the “Evolution of Beauty Campaign” launched by Dove, a worldwide market leader in personal care products. It shows how photoshop enables transformation from one look to another. In this case it’s a woman’s face being transformed from average to drop dead gorgeous for an advertising poster. Dove uses the campaign to explain how perceptions of beauty are distorted and to inspire confidence in young women that they can be just as beautiful as the models pictured in the ads they see.
It’s amazing to me to see how technology can be used to so quickly change perceptions. I understand the physics of how the photoshop software application works. It’s an awesome tool to have at your marketing disposal. Necks can be elongated. Eyes can be made lighter or darker. Skin tone can be softened. The background can go from spring to winter with the touch of a button.
But somehow, I find joy in that I can’t always trust my eyes today. I think I prefer walking through those aisles at Fabtech and getting sucked into a booth magic show. When the rabbit comes out of the hat, it didn’t really happen. Or did it? The uncertainty is immensely satisfying!