The Human Face of Globalization
September 10, 2004 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Take 100 photos of 100 faces in a metropolitan area, morph them together to create a composite male and female face, and you can see the face of tomorrow.
posted by Orb (22 comments total)
Damn. Looks that on the whole, the human population is going to be just plain sexy. I liked all those faces!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on September 10, 2004

posted by jacquilynne at 8:08 PM on September 10, 2004

So everyone is going to be 24 years old, and really good-looking. Interesting.
posted by iconomy at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2004

Super cool. Thanks.
posted by Quartermass at 8:38 PM on September 10, 2004

See also.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:01 PM on September 10, 2004

fff-- the "attractiveness is averageness" hypothesis.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:44 PM on September 10, 2004

What, no female composite in Damascus? Damn!
posted by Krrrlson at 10:08 PM on September 10, 2004

Only brown eyes...bummer.
posted by erratic frog at 10:37 PM on September 10, 2004

No female composite in Damascus, Ankara, or Istanbul. Can't imagine why...

A bit distubring, that the "face of tomorrow" for women in these three different cities and countries...doesn't exist.

And yet, I'd bet the listed-as-coming-soon Tel Aviv composite photos will include women--and that's only a few miles away.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:44 PM on September 10, 2004

In the future, men and women will look exactly the same!
posted by hincandenza at 10:47 PM on September 10, 2004

TIME Magazine, 2 Dec 1993 [q.v.]
posted by dhartung at 10:50 PM on September 10, 2004

I'm confused. To me a "real" composite face would be a blurred mess, much like the work of Jason Salavon. But instead there's distinct features like eyes despite the fact that not everyone's eyes are going to line up. So how was the composite really made?
posted by O9scar at 10:59 PM on September 10, 2004

I recall the Time cover story too, and I didn't buy it then either. For one thing, people don't breed in a 100:1 pattern in a single generation. For another, their features don't just average together, they're the product of a dominant/recessive genetic breakdown. And every one of those 100 people is carrying coded appearance traits in their genes that aren't actually apparent in their faces, or a photo of them. This is a neat idea, and fun to see, but as has been said, it's basically just a blur of some photos.
posted by scarabic at 11:08 PM on September 10, 2004

I've seen all of these faces already.

Walking around and talking.

Guess what ? - Humans have been mixing it up for quite a long time. It's one of the things we do.
posted by troutfishing at 11:12 PM on September 10, 2004

If I weren't really tired at 1 am, I would make an informative comment with links to sites about and illustrating the work of James Galton on composite photographs.

But I am, so I'll just say: James Galton, people! Composite photography!
posted by kenko at 11:17 PM on September 10, 2004

Very interesting, orb. It would be great to see more countries, though I agree with scarabic that these aren't really "faces of the future", as much as representative images that give us a multi-portrait of a city's population (within a certain age range). And Kwantzar's great, great link goes far towards explaining why these images are all so very attractive. It's a really fascinating site - be sure to click all the links on the left for lots of info with images. Fascinating.
posted by taz at 12:32 AM on September 11, 2004

Credit to Do Ho Suh, a Korean American artist who did a similar thing with photos of his Korean classmates a few years ago (sadly, no images of the final product on the Interweb).
posted by tomharpel at 2:16 AM on September 11, 2004

it's kind of intresting to see how much variation there is in some places compared to others, for example Sydny seems to have very, very similar looking people while Pampalonian's seem to have a lot of veryation
posted by delmoi at 8:05 AM on September 11, 2004

Uh, Francis Galton. That would explain why I couldn't find any links. I are dumb.
posted by kenko at 8:57 AM on September 11, 2004

The process is (somewhat poorly) documented in the section named "source code". Basically the artist takes two pictures and creates a halfway morph between them with a number of landmarks on the face. This produces a new "offspring". The final image is generated by mating the offspring images play-off-style, until there's a single image left. Mathematically there's no difference between mating two images at a time or simply computing the average morphed image, so the project has little novelty value, as others have noted above.
posted by ikalliom at 12:17 PM on September 12, 2004

Predictable that Austin Texas is slated to get its own composite project in the near future but that my home town of Dallas isn't even listed. Guess there's someone in Austin with $2000 to burn on this project, but here in Big D no one (including myself) could afford to bother with this, or those who can, aren't so inclined.

I agree with previous sentiments however that, while a novelty, this is not a new concept nor is it a valid one. The future face of the world is not a homogenous conglomeration of the past. I noticed some extremes in the individual faces with blemishes and fashion choices that completely get ignored in the merging process. The end result is a blending that has no individuality. Is the goal ultimately to do this to one hundred different cities, then merge those composites together until there is only one face, and THAT face will represent the future of the planet Earth? The future face is that of a lightly dark skinned person with brown eyes and full lips, no noticeable moles or scars and unkempt hair. Otherwise all composites are shoe-ins for a Calvin Klien commercial.

Personally, I'd rather there be completely unpredictable mutations like in the X-Men films in our future. That's much more interesting than this.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:04 PM on September 12, 2004

Sorry. Forgot to add..

Asparagirl: "A bit distubring, that the "face of tomorrow" for women in these three different cities and countries...doesn't exist."

I skimmed over that at first, assuming naturally that the reason behind this is probably due to religious and cultural tendencies in those parts of the world to not find it 'appropriate' to photograph women. Men may participate in such a project, but not women, without permission from their man.

So yeah. Metaphorically this project does reflect that there's no real future for any woman refused the inalienable right to decide such things for herself. That may be the one significant thing about this project, that almost gives it merit.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:09 PM on September 12, 2004

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