The science behind Faces Tell All:
Facial images dominate the worlds of art, media, fashion and entertainment, but also increasingly, law-enforcement and national security. Why are faces so important?
According to The Economist, Sept. 2017: “The human face is a remarkable piece of work. The astonishing variety of facial features helps people recognize each other and is crucial to the formation of complex societies.” On the other hand, “the ability to record, store and analyze images of faces cheaply, quickly and on a vast scale promises one day to bring about fundamental changes to notions of privacy, fairness and trust.”
Also on the dark side: our preoccupation with face-infused worlds of beauty and cosmetology, glamour and popular culture feed narcissism, obsession and celebrity worship.
Now, the new novel Faces Tell All dramatizes how technology harnesses principles of Chinese and Western Medicine about faces. This science can be summarized as follows:
Texture, contour and coloration of facial skin—also whites of eyes can reveal degrees of organic and physiologic health, strength and wellness as well as deterioration, disease, disability and stress—the discreet details of which computer cameras can see more of and with greater acuity than human eyes and brains. So, when fully elaborated and refined, such facial diagnoses of physical and mental conditions should permit accurate forecasting of aspects of performance and behavior for individuals or masses of people—useful to doctors, employers, matchmakers or spies!
Shape and features of the face can be psychologically suggestive of qualities such as strength, competence, toughness or ferocity on one hand and meekness, weakness or passivity on the other—but also traits ranging from meanness to compassion and from melancholy to cheerfulness. In Chinese Face Reading, Yin (soft, curves) is suggestive of female traits; yang (hard, lines) of male traits. Many, if not most peoples’, features are believed to be blends of both.
The “Attractiveness Halo” is thought to confer advantages on people considered good-looking; we relate positively or negatively to faces that resemble animal faces we admire, find cuddly, are in awe of, fear or despise. So, although personality may not necessarily follow anatomy, features and physiognomy can be influential in its development—what a leading faces researcher, calls a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.
Six facial expressions are considered universal to all humans (although not as consistently applicable to all cultures as once thought): fear, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness and happiness. Among animals, humans alone appear to possess this advanced mode of non-verbal communication. How well or artfully we move the muscles of our faces—expressiveness, seems to mirror the complexity, subtlety and variety of underlying personality and emotional intelligence. It stands to reason; more interesting people tend to have more expressive and interesting faces.
Facial recognition, made possible by the peculiarities and uniqueness of individual faces is integral to normal social interaction. Faces, animated by underlying personality, act as identifying “logos” of our personas, advertising our unique “brands” as humans. (Security cameras can read irises of the eyes—as distinctive as fingerprints.)
Facial imagery, as demonstrated in the thriller, Faces Tell All, is a uniquely pervasive influence in the learning process from birth onwards. The face is integral to early bonding and later intimacy. From the primitive use of masks, to “propaganda” portraits, and now to sophisticated cinematic re-creation, man has manipulated the attractive power of faces to command, comfort or enthrall us.
Animal and human features representing powerful symbols were imprinted on our primal psyche according to Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell in their writings on archetypes, fantasy and mythology. According to Jung (quoted in Faces Tell All): “faces reflect our noblest intentions and our basest instincts.”
As to Subliminal Perception (according to sub-lim blogspot.com): Theorized but not yet proved: “Anything programmed subliminally to your subconscious, from every stranger’s face or spider’s web you have glanced at, is stored in your brain and is capable of influencing your judgment, behavior and attitudes.”
In Faces Tell All, cultural and propaganda warfare takes a giant leap into the futuristic world of mind control. Super-realistic, digital cinematography re-creates facial images of past and present celebrities and historical figures, producing faked documentaries and news videos—essentially re-writing or creating new history!
Faces Tell All also predicts the possible use of brainwave entrainment, a strobe-like special effect, which, coupled with digital cinematography, greatly enhances believability in the minds of unsuspecting viewers—a type of “brain washing.”
Imagine villains of Western history, such as Hitler, Tojo, Stalin, Mao, and Saddam Hussein, transformed into heroes in the future, their features, expressions and voices “improved” and their background narratives revised—as in “revisionist history”. At a time when most print works, especially histories and journals, will be consigned to musty museums, digitalized communications will have created a new, changeable “reality” to impress on impressionable minds.
Newer facial diagnosis centers on eye tracking: British studies reported in Scientific American demonstrated recording of distinctive eye movements in patients afflicted with autism and Williams Syndrome (in which, contrasted to autism, individuals cannot refrain from making often intense eye contact.)
However, in noting failure to make proper eye contact, observers have reported disorders that may lay just outside the so-called autism spectrum—in merely introverted, socially anxious or neurotic personalities.
In fact, some websites have urged viewers to distinguish a milder or transient eye aversion which may be attributed to lack of preparation or interest, rather than an inherent inability to focus or pick up social cues (as in autism), and which can be corrected by proper social conditioning.
Beyond uses in psychology and medicine, such face-scanning programs could also be produced for personal use, or for matchmakers, human resources personnel and potentially as tools of national security and espionage—as foretold in Faces Tell All.
Reading body language (including faces) is becoming a popular topic on line and in seminars: Not only reading subjects but influencing them as well, is being taught by some parties, based on principles practiced widely in law-enforcement and business—how to read interest or disinterest, boredom, stress, discomfort, guilt, anxiety, and deceit, but also using one’s own body language, such as assuming an erect but relaxed posture, facing people directly, smiling frequently (and sincerely), in order to establish rapport and gain trust.
No longer just a parlor game. According to one website: “Face reading has reemerged in the 21st century as a guide in psychoanalysis or, as a tool for a competitive edge in the executive boardrooms of corporate America.”
What do you think?
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