Famim Ahmed

Researcher, Dismislab
Real eyes, fake eyes
This article is more than 1 year old

Real eyes, fake eyes

Famim Ahmed

Researcher, Dismislab

A photo of a human eye was posted on Facebook with a claim that it was taken with a macro lens. The claim is that this is a photograph of a real human eye. But once factchecked, it was found that the image was manufactured, and not of a human eye.
A science-based Facebook groupMonobiggan with fun facts of science — posted this photo with a caption, “Human eye through a macro lens, subhanallah”. This spread to various science groups (1, 2, 3) and Islamic groups (1, 2, 3). It also went viral on some education groups (1, 2, 3). While a basic search found around 150 posts with the same claim going all the way back to January 2021 (1, 2, 3), it continued to keep spreading on Facebook even in December.

A reverse image search found that it was uploaded on a site called CG Society. The photo was first posted by one Jenya Filimonov. Captioned ‘Realistic Eyes’, this image was put up on April 1, 2019. Jenya shares credit for the image with another Roman Lovygin.

CG Society website states that it is a networking platform for professional digital artists. The image can also be found on another similar platform of digital artists called “ArtStation”. The same image has been uploaded there from the ID of Eugene Filimonov. There too, the poster shared credit with Roman Lovygin as a co-artist.
According to Eugene’s profile, he has been working in computer graphics (CG) for 14 years. The same image is also available on Eugene’s personal website, where Roman Lovygin is mentioned as an associate along with a description of the method and process behind producing the image.

The artist duo, Eugene and Roman, had been working since 2016 to produce this image of an eye with the aid of computer graphics. Dismislab contacted Eugene Filimonov via email to learn more. He said, “The two of us produced this image. It is not an image of a real eye.”

It is to be noted that this artificially generated image was placed in the ‘Hall of Fame’ of a visual company named Foundry in 2019.

Researching the source of this claim found two posts from 2018 and 2019. The 2019 photo credits an Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan. Apparently, these close-up images of the human eye were caught in his macro photography. Suren’s photography project is titled “Your Beautiful Eyes.” Filimonov’s photo bears a striking resemblance to one of the images from this project. Some posts (1, 2, 3) have circulated in Vietnam with the claim that Filimonov’s photo was taken from Suren Manvelyan. There have been factcheck reports on the same image in Arabic and Turkish along with Bengali.

CGI or computer-generated image is basically an artificial image created through computer software. It is a kind of digital art. Such images are now frequently used in films, commercials and documentaries.
A study in 2017 had 707 participants look at five real and five manufactured images. In 40% of the cases, the participants mistook computer generated images for real ones. Recently, Ukraine-Russia war has also seen the spread of such computer-generated images and animations.