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Photo Series Constructs Symmetrical Faces To Test Traditional Notions Of Beauty

Photographer Alex John Beck's new photo series proves that perfect facial symmetry isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Ah, the Big Five: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. From the fields of psychology through sociology, these five have been ascribed as the major factors that comprise the human personality, and there are many ongoing debates that surround these traits' discernabilities from physical characteristics. Facial symmetry, the study of which has been subject to speculation since the time of the Ancient Greeks, has been seen, on and off, as an objectively correlative measure of the above five factors. For centuries, apparent beauty has been seen as the direct result of bilateral symmetry. Everything from attractiveness to youthfulness, with regard to their aesthetic applications, can be discerned when the right side of the face matches the left.


Untestable hypotheses spawned by intellectual impotence in the unchangeable face of genetics: this is the place from where insecurities emerge. One New York-based artist is flying a photographic fist in the face of this neo-phrenology, with a photo series that shows what people's faces would look like were they perfectly symmetrical, and the results are as polarizing as the pseudoscience of facial symmetry itself.

In Both Sides Of, Alex John Beck shows side-by-side portraits of subjects whose mirror images have been Photoshopped with the express purpose of showing off the eerie uncaniness about perfect symmetry. Huge props to Feature Shoot for highlighting this series. The results are immediately apparent, and instantly affirm the simple fact that our flaws are actually our most interesting physical characteristics.

Below, where perfect facial symmetry was once even held as an anecdotal measure of morality, perfect mirror images are unfamiliar, unsettling, and as worrisome as they are alienating. Nobody's perfect, Both Sides Of suggests, and that's a good thing. Perfect symmetry is creepy:

Alex John Beck is a photographer living and working in New York City. For more, visit him on Instagram. h/t Feature Shoot


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