Remember that scene in Uglies with the morphos? When Tally and Shay play with a digital version of their face to see what they’ll look like as pretties?
Well, a group of Israeli computer scientists have developed something similar: a “beautification engine” that automatically renders photos of faces into (supposedly) prettier versions of themselves.
Interestingly, the software doesn’t smooth wrinkles or blemishes. It changes only facial geometry, while trying to keep the face recognizable. (Being faithful to the original is not something they’d worry about in Tally’s city, of course.) And really, like a lot of these attempts to reduce beauty to numbers, it’s more bland-making than anything else.
What’s intriguing is how many faces are less pretty after they’ve been run through the software. (Especially Marlon Brando.) This may be because we “know” the celebrities involved, and don’t want them changed.
Or maybe it’s because some of these celebs are already pretties, and “there is no beauty without some strangeness in its proportion.” But the software, which looks kind of bland-making to me, removes that strangeness and actually makes certain people less pretty.
It’s cool that this came out now, though, because one of the biggest sections in Bogus to Bubbly is about the science of beauty. I tried to distill a lot of the research that’s been done, and to explain it in psychological and evolutionary terms in ways relevant to the Uglies series. And frankly, I think my explanations are better, or at least more complete, than those in the Times.
You’ll be able to judge for yourself in less than two weeks, because Bogus comes out October 21! (And yes, some school book fairs are already selling the book.)
Thank you for spotting this article, Sophie and Hiroki!
And one last shout-out from the tour bus: Tonight Justine will be in Kansas City, MO to talk about How to Ditch Your Fairy, with me in tow!
Thursday, 9 October 2008, 7:00PM
Kansas City Library
4801 Main Street
Kansas City, MO