Somebody or Nobody?
Everything has two sides, including
your face. A straight side and an oblique side. A broad and narrow. A nice
side and an ugly side. Look in the mirror, what do you look like? 2008 a
swedish photographer where looking at a freshly taken image of a face, photographed
from the front. He plays with the idea to make it perfectly symmetrical.
But which side of the face is worth double? What is beautiful? It ends up
with him making two pictures, one of the right side and one of the left
facial sides. The result is two completely different pictures of the same
person. The photographer gazes at himself in the mirror and find out what
he hock always known , that his nose is a bit crooked. He then made two
images of himself. Since 2008, he has photographed hundreds of faces. The
photographers name is Jesper Petersson and he comes from the small town
of Halmstad in southern Sweden. "There are few or perhaps no one who is
completely symmetrical in the body and face. Yet we strive complete perfection.
Who knows, in a hundred years from now we may no longer bear children, but
order them as designed babies.
As a photographer, I appreciate the uniqueness.
That is beauty.
My own crooked nose makes me somebody. I am Jesper.
Somebody or nobody is
a visual study of human symmetry or asymmetry. Originally a superficial beauty
experiments, overtime it has become increasingly more profound and challenging.
By showing not just the two symmetric images and omit the original image to
the viewer's imagination Jesper Petersson ask the question if you really can
achieve perfection. His conclusion is that the uneven makes us special and
the uniformity of the bland. You may not notice the most perfect one walking
past you in the street. The photo booth
As an addition to the opening of the exhibition in Stockholm Jesper putted
up a photo station so visitors could photograph themselves. The lighting
& the umbrella served as a natural barrier for some privacy. The camera
was attached at eye level on top of a screen and visitors could see themselves
and experiment freely. The final pictures were projected by 20-second delay
on a wall above the DJ booth in the room with the mingling guests, while
they ended up on the web. I cannot wear long earrings because i feel that
my right ear is lower than my left and this can be seen clearly particularly
with the hair put up and with dangling earrings. The eyebrows are not at
the same height. My optometrist says that it has with the muscles around
the forehead and eyes to do because I’m nearsighted and peers. This also
makes my glasses tend to wiggle. I usually solve the problem with shaping
the lower eyebrow in a higher arc and apply a light shadow under the brow.
The problem is then fixed but still in my mind.
After testing Jesper's photo booth during the opening night of the exhibition
in Stockholm I know that I got a face with one narrow side and one broad
side. But not witch one of them that I prefer. The two pictures are me and
in the same time they are not me. And that is the thrill with the double
portraits that you have to imagine the real person behind or between them.
And notice to the semantic here "real person". What is beautiful and what
is ugly? Since time immemorial, we have chosen to reproduce images of us
that do not necessarily reflect reality. Some argue that nature seeks symmetry.
Some argue uniformity is comfortable and resting for the eye. But when it
comes to beauty, does it mean thats a symmetrical face is more beautiful
than a skewed one? For example the Egyptian queen Nefertiti is an iconic
symbol of beauty. The face is completely symmetrical. No one can know for
sure if she really looked like that. Nefertiti reflects the aesthetic ideals
of her time and lets us interpret our own. It is no coincidence that the
discovery of her was so widely reported because she represented our cultures
definition of beauty.
Does the most beautiful exist in real life?
Appearance is important when selecting a partner. According to studies we
tend to prefer faces that are symmetrical over asymmetrical. It is believed
that our reaction is based upon the hunt for a partner that can provide
a good offspring. Asymmetry could be a sign of defective genes and signals
illness and that we have been affected by stress from the surrounding evironment
during development. Symmetrical people would if the assumption is corrct
manage external forces. It is therefore outside the individual's power to
do something about this. Neither hard work out or extreme diets can do something
about the relations between the two facial halves.
But that's not enough to match the right half with the left half. The proportions
of facial features must also be there. Researchers have developed mathematical
formulas to figure out how a face that we see as attractive looks. Many
celebrities who are perceived as beautiful fit into the template. And there
are more ideas about how to measure beauty. Wabi sabi is a theory based
on aesthetics that not deals with asymmetry as an offset, but as a contrast
between different parts of the face. Other terms are; echoism (the similarity
of one or more facial features, particularly the eyes, eyebrows, nose and
mouth). Harmonism (is a similarity in facial proportion, usually involve
the wing features and the distance between them.) Prima copulism (is an
attraction to another person based on them having similar features to someone
with whom do they form a strong interpersonal bond with at an early age,
usually a mother or father.)
As a consolation for the skew ones, is the people who have consumed alcohol.
They are worse at recognizing symmetrical faces. After only small amounts
of alcohol, we think that faces are prettier and are less picky in our choice
It might not be a coincidence that the aliens in popular culture
depicts symmetrical. A completely symmetrical face is simply not natural
enough. 3d artists may use a small shift between the face halves that trick
the eye perceive the face as more realistic.
Jesper Petersson, born 1979 in Halmstad, is an internationally known Swedish
photographer who has developed his passion for photography into art in various
projects. It all started back in 1989 when Jesper got a camera as a gift.
He studied photography and explored the expression intensely. The first
own photography project resulted in a photo book called Pals in 1999. He
has produced books, projects and participated in numerous solo and group
exhibitions. Jesper is currently working with several of Sweden's most prestigious
magazines, advertising agencies and other clients. His pictures are in great
demand both in Sweden and other part of the world. His photography has found
collectors in Sweden as well as other countries.
The exhibition somebody
or nobody is now touring around the different galleries in Sweden and is
currently displayed in stockholm. In combination with the exhibition Jesper
Petersson puts up a temporary studio for interaction with the visitors so
they also can become part of the project Somebody or Nobody?
Caroline Hedlund Caurator
Makeup and styling: Pamela Hanné