Artist reveals what people look like if faces were symmetrical – and the results aren't pretty

Alex John Beck calls the idea of beauty as rooted in symmetry an 'error'

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The Independent Culture

An artist has set about photographing what people would look like if their faces were perfectly symmetrical – and found that people really don’t like the results.

Photographer Alex John Beck said his digital “experiment” began with the usual collage work he does when editing longer projects.

Taking something “set and established” – aka “boring portraits” – Beck created two images of each subject. One shows the left side of the face perfectly mirrored – the other, the right side.

Speaking to The Independent, Beck said he discovered two things from his project that go far beyond what he says was just “an attempt to make something new”.

He says the images all show an “emotional difference” between the left and right sides of the face.

“People sat for the portrait and thought they had only one unified expression,” he said. “But the split image revealed that each side had its own subtle and distinct thoughts: one side withdrawn, the other awake and connected.”

And when people saw their own images for the first time, he said, the result for almost every single one was “jarring”.

“There’s an error in the widely-held belief that beauty is rooted in symmetry,” he said.

“Of course there are rational standards of beauty – but they don’t necessarily apply to what makes a face attractive or beautiful.

“Attraction is chemical and hormonal, not necessarily visual, so it seems we’ve made a few mistakes in our adoption of absolute standards for physical beauty that apply better to architecture and gardening.”

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