Thursday, 7 July 2011

Faces III allows you to participate in short online psychology experiments looking at the traits people find attractive in faces and voices. 

Supposedly, given enough data, they'll be able to provide the world with information on the following:
Being not quite sure how this will benefit the world, we do acknowledge that a fascination for faces is deeply felt by just about everyone.

One gazes into the face of a loved one and pretty much sees what they want to see.   Often loved ones are a mirror reflecting back on ourselves.  In their eyes we see the best in ourselves.

Looking up the history of portraiture, it was interesting to find out that early man did not draw pictures of themselves.  "Before recorded history, the notion of leaving behind a visual record of one’s own life for the purposes of posterity was quite remote."  Ancient drawings were of animals and "the first humans to be represented in art as the central subject of a work were pregnant women, or fertility Goddesses."  It wasn't until Egypt flourished with "monarchs who controlled vast regions of land" that the face of art changed.  "In most ancient cultures, the only human figures depicted in art were heavenly bodies, entities to be worshiped and revered. It wasn't until there were living Pharaohs in Egypt that were given God-like status, that historic portraiture began."

In 1900 the Kodak Brownie box roll-film camera was introduced and it then became possible for the "masses" to keep memories of their lives and loved ones. 

Latin America "has a long and rich tradition of portraiture. In its countries, as elsewhere, portraits have preserved the likenesses of individuals both living and dead, bolstered the social standing of the aristocracy, marked the deeds of the mighty, recorded rites of passage, and established and preserved the historical record."

The ancients with their great need simply to cope with survival, had no thoughts of preserving memories of themselves.  It took humongous egos to come up with that thought.  

Portraiture, once only for the well-to-do, then became available to all through photography, as a natural leveler. 

Classic monsters were written about and displayed in art as allegories for the very real monsters that individuals and societies face.   They are also intended as warnings of the need for constant vigilance against menaces that attack individuals and societies. 

Faces therefore remind us of things loved and things feared. 


We keep pictures of loved ones and look at them from time to time and remember more clearly past lives; the faces of people who formed us and filled our lives, the good and the bad, the beautiful, the sublime and the ugly. 

Plugging "memories through photography" into Google brought up only sites that offered photography services.  

Nothing on page 1 that spoke to the fragility of memory and the great comfort of bringing a face to the forefront that perhaps had been fading. 


Counselors and teachers sometimes use 42 Feeling Faces Cards like emotional flash cards to help individuals identify emotions and to share important thoughts about feelings.

These cards, originally intended for children, visually display the emotions that even adults continue to have trouble spotting.  


Methinks the ego of the pharaohs has not necessarily continued to the portraiture and remembrances we hold dear now.  The comfort provided in looking back at loved ones forever gone is not the same as delusional egos likening themselves to gods and forces of nature. 


It's important to remember the monsters and caricatures that we can so easily turn into and these are helpfully displayed in graffiti, fashion photography, films, magazines and on the web.  


But it's also important to remember the faces that formed us and mean something to us; that give us stability and provided love. 

 These "good" faces are the faces that keep us safe.