Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Face to Face

Marten Jansen
While watching an accomplished portrait artist paint, I was amazed how quickly the painting looked just like the model.  No details, just the lights and shadows indicated.  This started me thinking about how the brain works, when it comes to facial recognition.  How does a baby learn to distinguish family faces from strangers?  Why do some faces “all look the same” when they are not the same race as you. 

As you could guess, there is a very complicated science relating to facial recognition. There is also a condition called congenital prosopagnosia where the person does not recognize faces easily.  While my research was very technical, I did not find the answer I was looking for.  I remember hearing many years ago that our brains have the ability to remember minute details of familiar faces.  This is why commissioned portrait painting is quite unsettling for me.  I fear they are looking for some subtly that I may not have captured in the painting.