Manipulated Photos Of Perfectly Symmetrical Faces Question Conventional Beauty

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Photographer Alex John Beck uses photo manipulation to explore the idea that symmetrical faces are the most beautiful in his series “Both Sides Of”. After taking portraits of a diverse collection of people, he digitally divides them. He then duplicates each side, matching right half to right and left to left, creating two new portraits of perfectly symmetrical faces. The original portrait is not shown.

It’s not a new idea—Julian Wolkenstein’s 2010 series “Symmetrical Portraits” is very similar. Wolkenstein’s website, echoism, also allows users to upload their own pictures to be made symmetrical by an open source program on the site.

Turkish photographer Eray Eren does a version as well, though his include a third, non-manipulated shot for comparison.

Still, the quality of these images is excellent, and they continue to evoke questions relating to beauty and character. It’s tempting to create a narrative for the “people” in these portraits—so similar but not the same—to look from one image to the other and measure attraction and interest. Both created faces are absolutely symmetrical, theoretically proving the commonly held belief that symmetrical faces are the most appealing. And yet, they’re not. The artist says on his website:

“The less symmetrical they are initially, the more different the characters suggested by each face. The more symmetrical faces betray their owners more subtly, however, one side proves clearer, the other more inward looking.”

Movie and video game animators have long struggled with the issue of how to make a realistic human face that can hold up to high definition viewing. It’s incredibly difficult to create faces that look different from all angles, in different moods, on different days. Often it’s the overly symmetrical features and consistency of appearance that make the characters obviously unreal. The asymmetry in our faces is what makes us human. (via Feature Shoot)

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Woman’s Face Photoshopped In 27 Countries To Compare Beauty Standards In Different Parts Of The World

Left: Original portait; Right: Morocco

Left: Original portait; Right: Morocco

Argentina

Argentina

Serbia

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U.S.A.

We’ve all seen the “Before and After Photoshop” versions of photographs, displaying the ways in which various media distort our perception of ideal beauty. But what would these images look like in other countries? With her series Before & After, Esther Honig, a radio journalist based out of Kansas City, asked just that. With the help of Fiverr, a website for freelancers, she got in touch with artists from forty different countries; emailing each a self-portrait, she wrote, “Hi, my name is Esther Honig. Make me look beautiful.” When they did not understand the assignment, she simply told them to make her look like the most popular fashion models.

When artists from twenty-seven countries replied, she was astonished with the results. Some edits were so dramatic that she yelped aloud; others, like the image from Morocco, in which she was given a hijab, stole her breath. Some cultures favor a bare face where others apply makeup. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the work is the overwhelming presence of Western feminine ideals: pale white skin, pink cheeks, a dainty nose, and wide eyes contoured with trimmed brows.

In the end, the series expresses the extend to which often oppressive beauty ideals are meaningless; where a woman is declared beautiful in one culture, she might be plain in another. Yet for all women, regardless of ethnicity and background, the pressure to be beautiful remains, propagated by the whims of the contemporary media. Writes Honig, “Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.” (via Buzzfeed)

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Famous Paintings Photoshopped Like Modern Fashion Models

gif_565x396_21efa2Titian, Danaë With Eros, 1544gif_565x362_fed333Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1486gif_565x313_698da2Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Grande Odalisque, 1814gif_565x558_b68f2aRaphael, Three Graces, 1504–1505

Unfortunately, today’s media offers a limiting vision of female beauty, urging all women to have slender waists and full chests. Bodies that deviate from this standard are tossed by the wayside by publishers and media giants, photoshopped into figures that conform to an often impossible ideal. But it wasn’t always like this; Baroque painters like Titian and Peter Paul Rubens idealized fuller figures, imagining their nudes with sensuous curves of the flesh.

Lauren Wade, a senior photo editor for Take Part, has seen firsthand the digital nipping and tucking that goes on behind the scenes in the publishing and entertainment industry. In response to the societal obsession with “perfect,” unrealistic female bodies, Wade has digitally altered Renaissance, Modernist, and Post-Impressionist masterpieces to mimic the ways in which fashion models and celebrities are edited today. By releasing a series of gifs showing the extreme lengths to which industry standards alter the human form, she hopes to bring awareness to the fact that what we see in the magazines is entirely unrealistic and to remind us that “beauty” comes in all shapes and sizes.

Here, the female subjects of Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas, once considered to be idealized, get uncomfortably slim waists and oversized breasts. Raphael’s three graces, once representing the characteristics of female perfection— charm, beauty, and creativity— are also cruelly altered. The goddess of beauty herself, Botticelli’s Venus, doesn’t conform to 21st century societal standards, and she too is deeply changed. Even Titian’s Cupid gets a makeover. Wade’s work reminds us that definitions of “beauty” are in constant flux; as the centuries pass, we set one arbitrary ideal before another. In the end, aren’t all figures lovely and worthy of artistic representation? (via Design Boom)

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Former Playboy Bunnies Photographed Decades Later In Provocative Portraits

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When the renowned photographer Robyn Twomey visited the Former Playboy Bunny Reunion, she shot simple and engrossing headshots of women who had been Playboy Bunnies decades before, hoping the capture the complex and often contradictory nature of their former field. On one hand the women are mesmerizingly assertive, and yet, traces of vulnerability and self-consciousness mark their wrinkled brows.

Often, the women appear empowered by their sexuality, and their expressions border on the confrontational. Abandoning any show of passive feminine gentleness, a woman spangled in hot pink costume jewelry adopts a laissez-faire posture normally associated with masculinity, pursing her lips into a smirk and tossing her shoulder back with calculated attitude. Another makes an orgasmic facial expression, relaxing her lips around her open mouth, boldly pressing her breasts towards the camera.

Yet within these powerful and stunning individuals lies a poignant anxiety over growing older, one that boarders perhaps on self-doubt, expressed through a turn of the eye, a furrowed brow. A few turn away from the camera, staring into to the corner of Twomey’s tight frame with strained smiles or almost bashful eyes, their features and the passage of time made more noticeable by make-up that glistens under the bright lights.

Each woman is deeply sympathetic and beautiful, but the work calls into question the ethics of societal pressures enforced by brands and magazines like Playboy. When budding sexuality is valued above all, and when young women are both objectified and exalted, where does that leave aging women? The work is far from an indictment of its subjects; instead, it captures the complexities of a controversial industry that toes the line between supposed empowerment and potential degradation. What do you think? (via BUST and Feature Shoot)

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