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Can Brain Scans Reveal Your Ideal Self-Image?

Photographer Scott Chasserot explores idealizations of beauty with Photoshop and an EEG scanner.

Images courtesy of the artist

In a project called Original Ideal, photographer Scott Chasserot combines brainwave scanners, image editing, and human psychology. Through a series of carefully-derived photo manipulation and brain scanning processes, Chasserot hopes to capture a glimpse of his subjects' ideal self-images.

The first step in his process involves capturing images of his subjects in as minimal, basic, and effortless states as possible. Following the application of a suite of digital modifications to the captured image—tweaks on hair, skin coloring, and facial structure—to conform to or defy modern ideals of airbrushed beauty, his models are hooked up to an Emotiv EEG brain scanner, and shown 50 of Chasserot's modified images. Those brain scans are then analyzed for, in Chasserot's words, "a measure of mental focus that can be taken to also denote a positive emotional reaction"; qualities Chasserot calls 'engagement.'


"The methodology is still in pilot study phase," Chasserot told The Creators Project. "There is plenty to be improved upon. The 'Ideal' image is simply the one with the greatest positive reaction immediately after presentation and that cannot be distinguished from any theoretical, specific 'ideal self' reaction."

With Original Ideal, Chasserot explores new ideas about beauty being a function of personal identity, as opposed to the contexts of societal standards that projects like Esther Honig's worldwide photoshop experiment Before and After and Alex John Beck's symetrical photo series, Both Sides Of impose. Ultimately, Chasserot states that the project explores "how much of daily interactions are defined by the immediate assumptions we make about others based purely on their physical appearance, the leap we make from physical to psychological."

For his final products, Chasserot juxtaposes each of his original, intentionally-bland portraits with the modified versions that generated maximum engagement. Watch a short documentation of Chasserot's process, directed by Sebastián Cabrera, and check out some of the Original Ideal portraits below:

Visit the Original Ideal website for more information and the complete set of images from the project.


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