Eww. Girls.
July 8, 2011 9:47 AM   Subscribe

Flashing turns pretty girls ugly [SFW]
posted by christopher.taylor (74 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh cool, a tech teaser from the latest Bethesda game.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:51 AM on July 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


If I'm looking at the +, how do I look at the faces? Am I missing something here?
posted by stinkycheese at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, that was amazing.
posted by DU at 9:52 AM on July 8, 2011


Wow. this is really stunning. The distortion gets extreme after a while, huge frog eyes, blown out heads. It occurred towards the end of the first viewing and then happened very quickly on second viewing.
posted by Brainy at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I'm looking at the +, how do I look at the faces? Am I missing something here?

Peripheral vision.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it's better than that.
posted by theodolite at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Brains are cool.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's been a while since I've truly been freaked out by something I viewed on the internet (I don't go looking to get freaked out). What makes it the most freaky, IT'S MY OWN BRAIN FREAKING ME OUT.
posted by LoudMusic at 10:00 AM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


If you pause it, the faces remain freaky as long as you concentrate on the cross, but instantly collapse from caricature into photograph the second you glance at one of them. Neat.
posted by theodolite at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


great post, thanks for sharing.
posted by clavdivs at 10:03 AM on July 8, 2011


From the post title, I expected this to be a Three Times One Minus One video.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 10:06 AM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


That was incredible.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2011


The abstract linked below the video is interesting. I was trying to figure out what was going in this illusion, and wouldntchaknow, the authors got there ahead of me. (Differences from the average in a group really stand out.)
posted by Quietgal at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2011


I don't get it, there are several unattractive girls in the slides, and I noticed that while focusing on the cross. So what? I focused on the cross the whole time except for once when a blue eyed girl on the left caught my eye. Can't help that!
posted by banished at 10:12 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't get it either. There were flashes of lots of different female faces for a minute, of varying attractiveness, and nothing shocking happened. I was expecting a rickroll or one of those SCREAM ghosts or something as a punchline.
posted by jozxyqk at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weird, interesting, cool about the pause thing.
posted by Trochanter at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2011


Are the images as heavily processed as I think they are? Would regular ol' snapshots demonstrate the same effect? What if the background changed with each shot?

Either way I loved the effect. And I think it actually helped me understand a certain illustration aesthetic that I didn't really appreciate before. Caricatures are like, inside my brain, and they have been all along! Who knew.
posted by jsturgill at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's pretty neat, but the Courtney Love related video link is what really drive it home.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:22 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


For the people who aren't seeing it, here's what I see:

There are photos of girls' faces, of normal attractiveness (some with somewhat unsual proportions).

If you look directly at the faces, they look basically normal (if, as I said, a bit oddly proportioned). If you focus on the cross as instructed for the whole time and only view the faces in your peripheral vision, they look like grotesque, surrealistic exaggerated monster faces.
posted by designbot at 10:28 AM on July 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow, I must have TERRIBLE peripheral vision. I saw maybe two or three flashes of weirdness - a huge eye, a long forehead, a flash of terrible looking skin. Then I went back and looked directly at the faces, and well, they weren't all pretty, let's say that.
posted by peep at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2011


I don't quite get it. They have thrown some "ugly" images in (see 0.25sec, 0.45sec). Doesn't this undermine the claim that it is a mind trick that makes the images look ugly? Some of them actually are. My apologies for aspersions on women with chubby, chunky faces, but that does seem to be the premise of the OP.
posted by pavi at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2011


Let me clarify - the two faces that begin the video are quite striking. The rest of the faces are of varying attractiveness, relatively normal, ordinary looking women, some of them less than conventionally attractive. What I saw in my peripheral vision was no more "hideous" than the faces as I looked at them directly.
posted by peep at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2011


I also can't see the cross-eyed 3d sailboat pictures, so maybe that's why I don't see this illusion :/
posted by jozxyqk at 10:35 AM on July 8, 2011


I was bad initially and watched one side or the other at first. The side I was watching seemed normal but I'd see these flashes for grotesqueness on the other side, look over to see what was happening only to see it happen on the other side. It was a monster that was always outside of my direct line of sight, but...

THE MONSTERS WERE ON BOTH SIDES ALL ALONG!
posted by charred husk at 10:35 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm, it seems to me that my peripheral vision is less able to adapt to the changing images than my direct vision is, so the distortions are caused by the faces switching rapidly. If they switched less rapidly, the distortions probably wouldn't occur. I wonder if this information has any other applications.
posted by smilingtiger at 10:38 AM on July 8, 2011


It's not a sailboat, it's a schooner.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:40 AM on July 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Are the images as heavily processed as I think they are? Would regular ol' snapshots demonstrate the same effect? What if the background changed with each shot?"

The only image processing the authors have done is align the eyes of the women.

I'm not surprised that there are individual differences -- many perceptual effects show variation, but when fixating the cross, the faces appear very grotesque to me. For those who don't get the effect, you might try viewing the faces in full screen mode or at a different viewing distance.
posted by christopher.taylor at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2011


I wonder if the eyes being fixed in the same relative place added to the effect. Just watching the faces on one side still gave me the effect on the other side
posted by Redhush at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2011


2 girls, 1 crux
posted by jaimev at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pretty sure I saw the Inland Empire clown face at one point.
posted by naju at 10:56 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is truly, truly creepy. And awesome.
posted by odinsdream at 10:58 AM on July 8, 2011


I don't quite get it. They have thrown some "ugly" images in (see 0.25sec, 0.45sec). Doesn't this undermine the claim that it is a mind trick that makes the images look ugly? Some of them actually are.

It's not so much that is makes attractive faces look ugly as much as it makes the images into caricatures of themselves, sometimes grotesquely so.
posted by asnider at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2011


I wonder if it has to do with peripheral vision being designed to sense motion - and perhaps exaggerating it in the process. So a slight difference in eye position, nose shape, forehead size gets magnified to a large one by the motion sensing part of the brain, then detected as grotesque by the face recognition part.
posted by knave at 11:05 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


NSFFlashbacks
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:13 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


peripheral vision being designed to sense motion

Or to sense changes.
posted by Trochanter at 11:17 AM on July 8, 2011


Cool! Also scary!
posted by Lucien Dark at 11:30 AM on July 8, 2011


I agree with the top YT comment:

"I think this may be because the afterimages from the previous face get superimposed on the current one, creating a new, grotesque image."

I think that even if you look at the faces directly, you get a similar, if much less reduced effect. Or yeah, what knave said.

But yeah, cool illusion.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:36 AM on July 8, 2011


The effect seems to be influenced by how far into the periphery you see these faces. In any proper experiment, the viewers distance from the screen would be controlled; hard to do on youtube. Try watching it really large or close so the video takes up a wider viewing angle.
posted by garethspor at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2011


If you don't see anything odd, try it again with one eye closed.
posted by FireSpy at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2011


On the second time through, even looking directly at the women's faces made them grotesque for me. I think it has something to do with the fact that the eyes are in exactly the same spot, so that foreheads, ears, head sizes, mouths, eyebrows, etc. kept jumping around, getting huge, getting small, appearing at unexpected distances, etc. It really does highlight how different people can be from each other, but flashed in succession like that it starts seeming like some horrific mutation is going on.

Staring at the cross in the middle highlighted that in my peripheral vision, and many of the pictures seemed genuinely monstrous as a result.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on July 8, 2011


what a trip!
posted by rhizome at 12:02 PM on July 8, 2011


They all turn into Gollum.
posted by Specklet at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2011


Internal monologue: ok...so I look at the cross...and then the pretty girls get ugly....ok...ok, right, they're flashing different faces....and they've interspersed a lot of weird CGI monster faces with regular faces....ok....so at the end the pretty girls reappear and they'll look like monsters? No? That's the end? Well, that was stupid. I should re-watch the video and not stare at the cross, I suppose. OH MY GOD THERE WERE NO MONSTERS.
posted by robself at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Being an epileptic, I am used to the fact that my brain likes to fuck with me. But this strikes me as uncalled for.
posted by The Bellman at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know what this might have to do with (I say, having not read the paper)? Fovea vs. perceptual vision. Our fovea is really dense with rods and cones and much higher res than our peripheral...and maybe since the peripheral's "pixels" are much larger this means that a detail (like an eye) that lands on a rod/cone off to the side takes up a much larger percentage of our vision than it would if it was in the fovea.

Basically, I'm saying maybe this is an organic pixelization effect that we notice more due to the current faces contrast with the previous face.

Also, I'd like to see if it's there if they weren't aligned at the eyes like AstroZombie mentioned, but at the neckline perhaps?
posted by Brainy at 12:58 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: perhaps exaggerating it in the process.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2011


Kind of reminds me of a Bill Plympton cartoon.
posted by orme at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Internal monologue: ok...so I look at the cross...and then the pretty girls get ugly....ok...ok, right, they're flashing different faces....and they've interspersed a lot of weird CGI monster faces with regular faces....ok....so at the end the pretty girls reappear and they'll look like monsters? No? That's the end? Well, that was stupid. I should re-watch the video and not stare at the cross, I suppose. OH MY GOD THERE WERE NO MONSTERS.

This was me exactly.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:26 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like a hot or not site in fast forward...hot, hot, ok, hot, frog monster, hot, alien, not, golem, not, stingray, plasticene bust of mommy made by a 3yo...
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


To those complaining that not all the faces used are pretty: The use of the word "pretty" in the text here is misleading. A better classification than pretty/ugly would be normal/abnormal or human/inhuman. When you watch the video without staring at the cross, all the faces you see are human faces. That is not what most of us are seeing when we stare at the cross.
posted by baf at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I'd like to see if it's there if they weren't aligned at the eyes like AstroZombie mentioned, but at the neckline perhaps?

They are definitely aligned at the eyes, but I like your explanation, i.e. the greater pixelation.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:46 PM on July 8, 2011


Well, that was terrifying.

The illusion even holds for a bit if you pause it and keep your focus on the cross in the middle.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:10 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure its our blind spot that's tripping things out. The part that's missing is superimposed from the other side, and since it's happening on both sides at once you get some really distorted faces. This would also explain why it still works even when paused.
posted by forforf at 3:17 PM on July 8, 2011


forforf : I'm pretty sure its our blind spot that's tripping things out.

That would require us to all have very similar angular sizes for the video, which with the variation in monitor sizes, resolutions, and sitting distances, seems unlikely.

Personally, I didn't really "see" it until the second viewing. The faces looked a bit weird the first time through (though in fairness, I didn't strictly keep my eyes on the cross the first time), but I really saw some freaky distortions going on when I replayed it.
posted by pla at 3:45 PM on July 8, 2011


It's your brain trying to interleaf two dissimilar images that you're not exactly focusing on. There comes a point where your brain just can't keep us and says "Screw it! You get one from column A and two from column B and if they don't go together that's too damn bad."

Oh, and check this one out - they create the illusion of motion through the rapid succession of still images!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:03 PM on July 8, 2011


woah.
posted by nile_red at 5:54 PM on July 8, 2011


I'm not seeing it either. Just looks like a rapid succession of changing faces. *shrug*
posted by jmnugent at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2011


It's like being in an Aphex Twin music video.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 7:11 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hrm. When I looked at the cross, I saw some rather plain girls with decidedly wonky proportions. And then I wasn't looking at the cross, and I saw some rather plain girls with decidedly wonky proportions. From the description I was expecting supermodels the second time round.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:50 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else assume this was going to be some kind of rant against Girls Gone Wild?
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:51 PM on July 8, 2011


It's not an interesting experiment unless they're all attractive women. I mean, they could have thrown some close-ups of iguana heads and then… what? OH MY GOD THEY LOOK LIKE LIZARDS. Yeah, and?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:43 PM on July 8, 2011


This is a very cool effect.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:50 PM on July 8, 2011


From their research page:
"The effect seems to depend on processing each face in light of the others. By aligning the faces at the eyes and presenting them quickly, it becomes much easier to compare them, so the differences between the faces are more extreme. If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous. We’re conducting several experiments right now to figure out exactly what’s causing this effect, so watch this space!"
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:54 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kind of reminds me of a Bill Plympton cartoon

Yes! I'm sure this scene was in The Tune
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:32 AM on July 9, 2011


I'm tired, did it on an iPhone and have an astigmatism in one eye....... but I saw THREE faces. Instead of the cross, I saw a third face in the middle. Did anyone else or do I have a toomah?
posted by taff at 4:47 AM on July 9, 2011


taff... I'm not sure how to explain this, but well...

Have you seen the movie Jacob's Ladder?
posted by Eideteker at 7:16 AM on July 9, 2011


I didn’t get it the first time. This needs a better setup. The title made it confusing.
Don’t stare at the cross the whole time. Alternate between watching the cross and looking at the pictures of the girls.
posted by bongo_x at 11:48 AM on July 9, 2011


"These images have not been altered"? Ouch.
posted by ostranenie at 12:02 PM on July 9, 2011


Eidteker, I haven't. What does this mean!? It's a toomah, isn't it?
posted by taff at 11:16 PM on July 9, 2011


Hoo boy...
posted by Eideteker at 7:23 PM on July 10, 2011


God, I loved that movie. I need to watch it again.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:27 PM on July 11, 2011


Amazing. I also didn't get it at first, because I didn't stare at the cross.
posted by chaz at 3:59 PM on July 11, 2011


When I pause and stare at a still image, it's just a normal looking woman.

When I stare at one of the flashing faces, I see somewhat deformed faces.

When I stare at the cross after a couple seconds, my peripheral vision soon fills with grotesque monstrosities. The proportions are freakish and awful. Then they become twisted and asymmetric like a cross between Bill Plimpton's and Giger's work. This is mind blowingly weird and freaky.
posted by jefftang at 4:15 PM on July 11, 2011


I keep hearing Peter Lorre in my head saying something like: "What you don't realise is that these are the actual faces of the girls ..."
posted by bwg at 6:58 PM on July 11, 2011


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