WHAT IS BEAUTY?
C O N T E N T S 4
measurements of beauty
how people see themselves
H O W W E VISualised i t
OUR CONC ePT
i n t r o d u c t i o n When given the brief my group and I took the question literally. What is beauty? What makes something beautiful? When researching into this we found numerous articles and a large amount of theories into what it is exactly that makes something, or someone beautiful.
measurements of b e a u t y
Something that was continuously mentioned in our research was the theory of the golden ratio. The golden ratio refers to the idea that beauty works with in the ratio 1/3rd to 2/3rds, or as a decimal as it is commonly seen 1: 1.618. This proportion is one that is used frequently throughout things such as art, architecture and music. Even nature shows the use of this proportion, as you can see in these images. (Maddox, 2007)
This proportion dates right back to the Greeks in 300bc. However it wasn’t until later on that the “divine proportion” was measured against the human form.
The Greeks were renowned for representing beauty within their art, however it was not the same as the ideas of beauty that society appears to have nowadays. Socrates, one of the first to explore the meaning of beauty, believed that aesthetics was a form of purity, things that are pure evoke pleasure, meaning they are beautiful. This idea of purity and serenity is seen throughout Greek art and sculpture; for example, Greek busts show an extremely natural example of beauty at its purest form. (Greenwald, 2000) fig. 5
Dr Stephen Marquartdt was the first to
take all these ideas of the maths behind beauty and use it to create a face mask showing the proportions and placements of facial features in a way which is mathematically beautiful. (Maddox, 2007) This mask can be applied to faces in order to distinguish if they are deemed beautiful by the measurement; depending on whether or not they fit to the divine proportions, regardless of race, nationality or sex. After finding this out we realised as a
pressure on people to fit to society’s “measurements of beauty”. No longer Artist,
can we believe Plato’s theory that “beauty
Leonardo da Vinci is just another of the few early adopters of the idea beauty of the body comes from the proportions, Illustrated here in his Man In Circle piece, 1485-90. (Jefferson, Unknown)
is in the eye of the beholder”; Now we have a method of dictating who is mathematically beautiful. Taking nothing into consideration other than the face.
8 fig. 10
HOW people see themselves Due to not only the advances in theories such as Dr Stephen Marquartdtsâ€™ to do with what makes people beautiful, but also the increasing amount of images we see of supposedly, â€˜mathmaticallyâ€™ beautiful models, it is becoming increasingly harder for people to accept them selves as beautiful. Bombarded with imagery of unrealistically thin models and celebrities with perfectly symmetrical faces, often Photo-shopped to the point of being unrecognisable as the actual person; we feel we do not live up to social expectations. (Wiseman, 2012)(Gray, 2011) When girls think of a role model they tend to choose people who they aspire to look like, based completely on face value. Girls in particular, will change their image depending on what they think society expects them to look like for different situations. (Fagan, 2012) It came to our attention that women are normally depicted as role model for their attractiveness,
where as men are aspired to for their knowledge, personality or attitude. (Leith, 2013)
Every time I am faced with someone looking at my passport, like many others, I express my dismay with how I look in my photograph. So many people despise these simple headshots. It is quite striking, as this image is your identity. It is your face. It is what people recognise you as and it is what defines you as you, yet so many people can’t bare the thought of people seeing these pictures. Probably because unlike the images we choose to upload as part of our online presence or images we choose to have printed, passport photos are un edited; no instagram filters, no pose that you know makes you look better, it’s just you, warts and all. There is nothing to hide behind. Photographer and artist John Clang explores the idea of identity a lot throughout his work. he uses this idea of the passport style headshots to convey this in his work, Blind spot, seen here. He projects an image of the person’s face back onto their face, resulting in a quite mesmerising series of images. (Clang, unkown)
O U R
C O N C E P T
As a group we all felt very strongly that we wanted to make a comment on natural beauty, purity, the strength of role models that aren’t just for their looks. We wanted to convey the importance of realising beauty is only skin deep, and it is passion, knowledge and personality that we should be aspiring to, not looks. However, when thinking this it came to our attention that even aspiring to these things means that were not truly happy with our selves. People still use other people as a reference point of whom they want to be. Why can’t we just be ourselves? We hide behind celebrities and famous people and use their attributes within our selves because we don’t feel good enough. And the feeling that were not good enough seems to be reinforced by the media. On the X factor, for example, the contestants are asked, who do you want to be like in the music industry? A diva like Beyoncé? An indie bad boy like Pete Doherty? A pop princess like Britney? Why can’t they aspire
to be someone new? What wrong with aspiring to be the best version of your self?
How we visualised it In order to visualise our concept we drew aspects of many of our starting points:
We thought the way in which John Clang had projected images onto faces could work well within our own photographs, as a visual metaphor for how we use the people we aspire to as a mask to hide ourselves behind, because we think they are what we should be like. We used a digital projector to project images of celebrities and people our model aspires to, back on to our models face.
We also decided to use a mixture of a passport style composition to draw onto the identity aspect, with bare shoulders and no make up to convey a similarity to the purity of Greek bust sculptures. We chose to use strong lighting in order to make the modelâ€™s skin appears whiter almost like marble. Making her face angles and bone structure look almost chiseled.
We chose Natalie, one of our group members to be our model for a few reasons, firstly because she has an extremely natural look in everyday life, wearing little, to no make up. And secondly because when we asked her who her role models were for things other then for appearances, she had some extremely interesting answers. fig. 27
SHOOt fig. 35
We experimented with a variety of celebrities’ faces being projected onto Natalie’s’, including, David Bowie, Sir Alan Sugar, Frida Kahlo, Angelina Jolie, Kurt Cobain and Katie Piper. We encountered a few problems; for example, we were unable to get the lighting consistent through out the shoot and it was difficult finding images of the celebrities that didn’t have backgrounds. Also because we were using the projector, but wanted face on headshots, it was very hard to not get our shadows in the photograph. We also experimented with other compositions and the scale of the projected images as you can see in these images. After the shoot we were quite apprehensive about how the images had turned out, there didn’t seem to be a series of shots that had the same lighting tone and composition which we could use for our quadriptych, however after our feedback from the tutors and our classmates we felt more positive that we had enough of a variety of compositions that we would be able to find 4 images out of
the whole shoot that worked well together.
16 fig. 29
During post production the main thing we focused on was ensuring that all the images had the same bright white background so they looked more uniform and to convey the passport style of the images. We also experimented with collaging the faces together and combining the images in different ways as you can see in the surrounding images.
the final images
We eventually settled with our original idea of the qudriptych, and chose the 4 images we thought worked best together aesthetically. Ensuring that the shadow and background in all the images was consistent.
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Right from the start we were adamant that the magazine in which our images would be situated would be I-D magazine. I.D obviously being used as a slang word in reference to our identification documents, and the 2006 I-Dentity exhibiton they used as a way of celebrating 25 years of the magazine, being key factors to this choice. We felt that although maybe quite an obvious choice for our identity based shoot, over all it seemed to be the most suiting magazine for our concept as a whole. I-D combines aesthetically interesting editorial imagery and sometimes controversial subject matter. We feel that our images would be incredibly powerful as part of a feature about self-acceptance. Due to the fact that I-D covers a large amount of topics such as art and music as well as fashion, we feel the people we have chosen as the projected role models in our final images, including David Bowie and Frida Kahlo, will be people of interest to the readers of I-D. (Unknown, fig. 40
I N T E R E S E C T I N G
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2006) fig. 42
CONCLUSION fig. 44
From the final images it is easy to see the visual metaphor of us masking our selves with other, more successful personalities. Showing how our need to be accepted by society makes us feel we need to change our selves to be somebody â€œbetterâ€?. Its only when you look closer into the images you see the other visual semantics, for example the central, head shot composition and bright white background being reminiscent of the John Clang photography and passport photos. Along with the bare, white shoulders and serene, natural face conveying the inspiration of ancient Greek bust sculptures. I feel our images look very peaceful yet are packed with a huge amount of cultural, and historical references, making them somewhat quiet, yet powerful.
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