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True Love
September 22, 2009 9:14 PM   Subscribe

The True Love Project — People are exhorted to "say cheese" for the camera so their faces will approximate a happy look. Other emotional states, such as love, are far more complex and not easily photographed. Love is intimate and deeply personal, and its expression may be hard to share in a staged setting. Hypnosis opens a pathway into the unconscious, the neurological realm of emotional memory. In TRUE LOVE a group of volunteers worked with a professional hypnotist to reach, in trance, a point where they were able to visualize the camera as a beloved person. The resulting images captured people who were actually in love with the camera.
posted by netbros (42 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
The resulting images captured people who were actually in love with the camera.

No, it didn't.
posted by Huck500 at 9:28 PM on September 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


They didn't, rather.
posted by Huck500 at 9:30 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I expected something way more impressive, somehow. Neat idea, though.
posted by Michael Roberts at 9:37 PM on September 22, 2009


Is this like the late night show on the cruise ship, where the hypnotist has all the participants (and by all, I mean the ones he didn't dismiss from the stage when the hypnosis clearly didn't take) dance around and look silly? Is it the same method producing these results? I don't really understand it. Is it real? I want to hear from someone who has been put into one of these trances- what is going on when you're under?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:07 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kinda sweet, kinda creepy.
posted by orthogonality at 10:08 PM on September 22, 2009


Interesting set a photos. As huck500 so eloquently stated, it did not capture them in love with the camera. I dont even think it captured them "in love". Instead, what i saw was a group of people who were experiencing intense emotion. Some of those had very, very sad eyes; for example one woman near the end said she was thinking of her younger brother who she lost a long time ago. Another just seemed to be riding high on endorphins.

Oh and that kid in the 5th picture was just spaced the f--- out.

ThePinkSuperhero, if you read the descriptions under the photos you will get an idea of what they experienced. This wasnt a show hypnosis, but rather the type of hypnosis used in psychotherapy. One way of looking at it, is that the person was very relaxed and comfortable, and the therapist was helping them focus their thoughts on something. In this case they were asked to focus on someone they loved very much.
posted by Merik at 10:17 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


My cat makes way better faces. Especially when I scratch her back, right above her tail. That's love. No fancy hypnosis tricks necessary.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:18 PM on September 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is love the feeling that I get from my wife, in a comitted, open relationship? Is love the feeling that I get from the crew members that I work on meaningful transcendent art with? What about the girl I've known and loved (as a friend) for twenty years, but only see twice a year? What about my mistress? I know they all love me, and I love them. Perhaps the ultimate expression of love is not facial but a hug?
posted by poe at 10:19 PM on September 22, 2009


The more I look at these, the creepier they get. Its kinda what i imagine cult followers looking like.
posted by Merik at 10:19 PM on September 22, 2009


This post has me posing a question to myself that gets my head bobbing.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:29 PM on September 22, 2009


Really? Ten posts and no love? I was amazed at the truth of the moments caught here. I rarely find photos "moving" as often as others seem to, but these expressions really grabbed me.
posted by scrowdid at 10:45 PM on September 22, 2009


The photographs are great, done in an intersting and intimate style an' all, but many of the shots where you could see the subjects irises weirded me out a little. It just looked like that part of someone that shines out of the eyes in love was missing, maybe upstairs rooting around in their memory and phoning in the facial/body language. It's an interesting idea to call up a face's remembered emotion, but without that conscious spark they just look like gloriously expressive marionettes—beautiful, and lively even, but empty too.

That connection the hypnosis aspect claims to generate between waking life and emotional memory still implies a distance, and I think that shows in the subjects' faraway eyes.
posted by carsonb at 10:58 PM on September 22, 2009


Those faces bear the expressions I had always imagined as seen in the last moments of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille.
posted by adipocere at 11:00 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who else here read poe's comment as "Perhaps the ultimate expression of love is not a facial but a hug?"
posted by ooga_booga at 1:12 AM on September 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I want to hear from someone who has been put into one of these trances- what is going on when you're under?

The two times I've decided to give hypnosis a go didn't result in the kind of stupor that you see in movies or documentaries or whatever for me (at least I don't think so - dum dum DUM) because I can remember what was being said and I can also remember thinking 'hmm this is interesting, I bet I could snap out of this but I just don't really want to' and when it was suggested that I talk about something that the hypnotist asked me about, I was very happy to do so. I don't know whether this is typical or whether I was actually resisting.

Hypnosis fascinates me too.
posted by h00py at 1:25 AM on September 23, 2009


So, being in love makes us look... drunk?
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 3:21 AM on September 23, 2009


Some of these seem so true it's unnerving. Others, not so much. Jason and Dalyah were the ones who struck me as very like expressions I've seen in people's faces before.

The last one, Kiana? Seriously unnerving. I spent a minute just looking at that one and felt like a ghost.

A bunch of them look more like they're performing what they think love should look like, then really looking the way they'd look in love.

Also... @ooga_booga: Thank you. If you hadn't pointed it out I wouldn't have realized that poe *didn't* write 'a facial'...
posted by larkspur at 3:27 AM on September 23, 2009


None of these people are naked. That's not true love.
posted by Eideteker at 4:09 AM on September 23, 2009


They all just look like they've been hypnotized.
posted by fermezporte at 5:20 AM on September 23, 2009


I loved this. Awesome that so many people took part and were able to share what they experienced. Great post.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2009


Yeah, this creeped me right the fuck out. Like they're high on some kind of new futuristic drug that's being tested. I don't know why, but this whole thing seems like the beginning of a dystopian novel to me.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:37 AM on September 23, 2009


Great. We can manufacture love now.
posted by feistycakes at 6:51 AM on September 23, 2009


10 women, 2 men, and a boy. I wonder why. Is it that women are more receptive to the idea of conveying naked love, or is it just that the photographer, a man, preferred the look of women in love and felt they were more successful?

At any rate, thinking about your dead turtle is an unusual way to compose your face. Imagine if this caught on at Olin Mills. "OK. Any dead pets, mommy? Bootsie? Ok. Think about Bootsie. No, honey, don't cry, just think about Bootsie in heaven having a good time with all the dead squirrels and bunnies. Good. That's it. Bootsie loves you and is waiting for you up in heaven."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:53 AM on September 23, 2009


I'd like to see the pictures they didn't use.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:56 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Of course these feel creepy to look at. Ever been near a schmoopy couple? Being in one feels awesome, but witnessing it is really uncomfortable. It is a mindset that is only attractive in others when you are in it as well.
posted by idiopath at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine falling in love with a camera, although I did make love to my tonic and gin once. I've been banned from that piano bar for life.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:25 AM on September 23, 2009


I've been banned from that piano bar for life.

You wouldn't be the first.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:32 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Portraits of the stoned.
posted by rokusan at 7:34 AM on September 23, 2009


I love the range of emotion, from goofy, to deadpan/stoned/hypnotized, to mystically creepy. Yes, this is all love.
posted by notnamed at 7:36 AM on September 23, 2009


That's why actors make the big bucks.
posted by perriann rodriguez at 7:41 AM on September 23, 2009


So, being in love makes us look... drunk?

According to my photos with lovers, yes.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:56 AM on September 23, 2009


I liked the pictures a lot, too. Without the back story, I'd probably like them even more. I think it's the fact that we know they were put into a trance by a hypnotist that makes it seem kind of creepy.
posted by juliplease at 8:37 AM on September 23, 2009


I was recently asked to pose for an oil painted portrait, and that's what I thought, "look in the painter's eyes and project love." Now I have been memorialized as a psychotic doofus.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:39 AM on September 23, 2009


StickyCarpet: "I have been memorialized as a psychotic doofus"

To be fair, people who are in love are generally psychotic doofuses.
posted by idiopath at 8:41 AM on September 23, 2009


Ah, do some mefites betray their inability to perceive the emotions of others? Are we a bunch of high functioning autistics? :)

Love is a powerful and complex emotion. It's not the same thing for everyone, indeed not the same thing to the same person.

I read a study once, can't cite it, sorry, where the research indicated that when people recall a memory, they actually re-experience the experience, replayed from memory storage. There's not a discrete "memory-viewer" in the brain, the brain and body react to memories as if they are real experiences. Of course the memories themselves are prone to distortion, and unpleasant or powerful memories may be wholly or partially suppressed, taking some of the sting out of them.

Hypnosis may help to unblock some of our resistance to recalling these experiences, in effect making them more powerful than we'd like to re-experience.

And no, not in love with the camera, but that may have been what the hypnotist had asked the subjects to focus their emotions on.
posted by Xoebe at 9:16 AM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I liked the pictures a lot, too. Without the back story, I'd probably like them even more. I think it's the fact that we know they were put into a trance by a hypnotist that makes it seem kind of creepy.

This could be it. I'm one of the few who posted a positive comment, and I admit I skipped all the link's boring texty stuff and went right to the pics, which I loved. I wondered how these honest emotions were being captured - then I read about the hypnosis. I think this thread shows more kneejerk distate for hypnosis than anything.

Maybe that's the real object of the art - to perform a mass meta-hypnosis that convinces viewers good portraiture is actually bad, based on a powerful suggestion given to them before they view it?
posted by scrowdid at 9:50 AM on September 23, 2009


I think that he had them say Windows 7.
posted by Danf at 10:45 AM on September 23, 2009


Let's try it with an injection of oxytocin. Less room for error.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:00 AM on September 23, 2009


A bunch of them look more like they're performing what they think love should look like, then really looking the way they'd look in love.

Exactly. Interesting idea, mediocre photographs.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:22 AM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've seen better love made to cameras. This is a bit on the hermetic, sanitized side. And I don't see why hypnosis was necessary. I feel like I can pretty much direct lovebeams in whatever direction, at a camera is only better so that the photogrpaher can have it to remember by. I revisit photos where people have looked at me, the photographer, with love, often, but that doesn't work the same way for anyone else. Love has a durational, active aspect these portraits are flattening. Smush.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:05 PM on September 23, 2009


I hadn't thought it possible for actual people to fall into the Uncanny Valley, but these photos proved me wrong.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2009


Did anyone see the "behind-the-scenes" video on the site? It actually reveals a lot about the process of creating these images. I was skeptical about the concept at first but the video pretty much proves that this was all real.

Glad other people volunteered for this though, I never want to be hypnotized!
posted by PhotoFilter at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2009


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