The idea behind Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir‘s work is to find information-neutral “seams” in the image and fold or expand the image along those constantly shifting fault lines. Unlike traditional methods for resizing images, “important” areas don’t become smaller at the same rate as low information areas. As a result, things can move around a bit in the resized images. Take a look at the video above to see this in action, or read the paper for information about how it works.
Personally, I think this is another step in our cultural evolution with respect to imagery. First we believed every photograph represented an actual event that was faithfully transcribed. Photography was an optical-mechanical process of transcription, according to its earliest practitioners (and detractors). Then mid-20th century we realized imagery could be manipulated in order to entertain, mislead, or manipulate us; but we still more or less believed that images were inherently truthful. After another half-century we’re still coming around to the fact that images are surfaces that we project our thoughts and feeling onto and, as a result, must be treated rather skeptically.
Image manipulation techniques such as this — which change image content in a way that moves around visual elements automatically while attempting to retain the information within a scene — may finally highlight some latent connections between our mind’s images and those that are recorded. We’re constantly evaluating the content of scenes and unconsciously throwing out most of the “uninteresting” information, transforming the world’s “truthiness” along the way. Recorded images have no more inherent truth than people’s faulty memories do.