Is PhotoShop still relevant in the age of AI?

I tried out Cornell’s Microsoft Copilot Enterprise, which Cornell describes as “a way to experiment with generative AI,” and was, unsurprisingly, underwhelmed. In particular, the image-generating tool was inane and pretty much useless, and the Microsoft-provided explanatory material was simply embarrassing — it promoted such a dumbing down of critique and explanation that even Edward Tufte’s classic critique of Microsoft’s PowerPoint would need some sort of afterword.

It is in this context that I wonder about the continued relevance of Adobe’s PhotoShop, which — in the age of AI — seems to take on the character of an old-school graphic device, with a direct connection to the user’s intentions and control. So, if PhotoShop is dead, I say, “long live PhotoShop”!

Having just returned from a short trip to Spain, I began editing (with PhotoShop) some iPhone images that I took in several Madrid museums — in particular, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando:

Plaster cast of statue of Laocoön and His Sons, edited with PhotoShop to include iPhone (as if one of the figures, in anguish, is taking a selfie.

Plaster cast of Laocoön and His Sons in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid: iPhone photo taken and edited with PhotoShop (adding the iPhone used by one of the sons to take a selfie) by Jonathan Ochshorn.

Jacob Lucasz. Ochtervelt's Oyster Eaters; with the 17th-century lute replaced with a Gibson les Paul Standard electric guitar.

Jacob Lucasz. Ochtervelt, Oyster Eaters; ca. 1665 at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid: the 17th-century lute has been replaced, using PhotoShop, with a Gibson Les Paul Standard electric guitar by Jonathan Ochshorn.

Selfie taken in front of Picasso's 1923 Harlequin with a Mirror, with the "harlequin" taking a selfie at the same time, courtesy of PhotoShop.

Double selfie by Jonathan Ochshorn: a selfie taken in front of Picasso’s 1923 Harlequin with a Mirror, at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, with the “harlequin” taking a selfie at the same time, courtesy of PhotoShop.

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