Jennifer in Paradise

A few weeks ago an article was mentioned on the course called ‘Situating Post Internet’ by Domenicio Quaranta. One time Rhizome editor Marisa Olson coined the term ‘Post internet’ in 2006, which in a nutshell she defines as;

“A new generation of artists who, while spending a lot of time online, were developing most of their work offline: work that was nonetheless ‘infused with the digital visual language, network aesthetics, and the social politics of online transmission and reception.”[1]

It also mentioned or linked to a jolly faced Dutch man with a great moniker ‘Constant Dullaart’, the second letter ‘a’ almost making it sound like a proper Dutch surname.

I have been reading a lot the last few weeks about the image….Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Ranciere…almost to the point of cerebral overload 🙂 so Dullaart’s take on things brings almost light relief, but with some very interesting concepts and themes bubbling below the surface. His piece from 2014 ‘Jennifer in Paradise’ grabbed my attention.


‘Jennifer in Paradise’, is the first ever photoshopped image.

“…Jennifer was the last person to sit on solid ground, gazing out into an infinitely fluid sea of zeros and ones, the last woman to inhabit a world where the camera never lied.” [2]

The image was taken in 1987 by John Knoll who worked at Industrial Light and Magic, it was of his wife Jennifer. It became the first colour image used to demonstrate the software they had started to call Photoshop.

In Dullaart’s view this photo is of extreme importance in the modern visual vernacular and should be in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC as a key 20th century artefact;

“just from an anthropological point of view I thought it would be interesting to examine what values the image contains. The fact that it’s a white lady, topless, anonymous, facing away from the camera. And that it was his wife. He offers her, objectifying her, in his creation for the reproduction of reality.” [3]

He even asked the Knoll’s to go back to the beach in Bora Bora to recreate the shot, which they politely declined!

“For him Jennifer in Paradise is a key artefact, the original Photoshop meme. As such, he believes, it belongs in the public domain. His misappropriation of it is a protest.”[4]


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