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Filmmaker David OReilly launched a Hyper-real CG Tumblr/Instagram last month showing what were purportedly realistic-looking computer graphics. The images were accompanied by information about the 3D software and rendering engines used in the creation of the artwork.

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Media sites like Huffington Post and Gizmodo were impressed with the advances in computer graphics, and posted stories like CGI Faces Are Officially As Real As Actual Human Faces and I Can’t Believe These Hyper-Real Pictures Are Completely CG and Not Real.

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Here’s the thing though: none of the images were actually CGI. They were a collection of photos found online as well as personal photos taken by OReilly. One of the images was a photograph by Sage Sohier (below), whose work can be found in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, amongst other museums:

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OReilly, who started the project with Kim Laughton, did so as a way of making a commentary on the pursuit of photorealism amongst 3D artists. Flip open most magazines about computer graphics, and you’ll find galleries of images rendered to look as photorealistic as possible, similar to the ones OReilly posted on his Tumblr. As OReilly pointed out on his Twitter:

OReilly’s original point was that the artists who make hyper-real computer graphics often conflate realism with quality. Intended as a commentary on the pursuit of photorealism in computer graphics, OReilly unintentionally exposed the mainstream media’s irrational fascination with hyper-realism too—not to mention their low standards in covering the computer graphics world. (To Gizmodo’s credit, they have retracted their story, while Thomas Tamblyn at the Huffington Post UK has not.)

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