In his book Critical Code Studies (2020), Mark C. Marino brings back the graphical illusion from media theorist Friedrich Kittler:
Anticipating today’s discussions of “fake news” and digital media manipulation, Kittler argues that computer graphics are prone to falsification to a degree far beyond photography.
Intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent) have abundantly criticized manipulation in mass media, Kittler goes further:
The deception for Kittler goes beyond the manipulation of images produced or edited on the machine and into the interface of contemporary operating systems. Kittler points to the ways … that operations become invisible in the graphical user interface. The operating system presents its interface as transparent “windows” or a background “desktop,” even though it is a construction of graphics. These windows are hardly transparent as they keep users, especially those who cannot pass through the windows, subjugated to Microsoft and Apple.
Marino calls for intellectuals to take part in the debate on technique (which is also about beauty and aesthetics):
If technology is insufficient, who can intervene? Philosophers. Specifically, philosophers who are willing to enact processes to understand reality, also known as phenomenology. Philosophers experiment to understand reality. For example, Kittler presents Kant’s formulation of Beauty, the “optical gestalt,” as a “mechanism of recognition,” to ruminate on the conditions of aesthetic representation. … Thus, in the world of idealized images, the human philosopher must report for duty.
In a society increasingly under the yoke of information architecture, Marino reminds us the critical urgency of understanding the code that hides behind polished interfaces, not to be fooled by mere appearances.
Philosophers have always strived for the truth, their mission should not fall short before any technological mirage.