Archive Delve – Essex Cemetery, 1988

Found in an Essex cemetery.

Found in an Essex cemetery.

I saw part of a programme last night which talked about how babies can recognise anything resembling a face almost from birth, but can’t visually recognise anything else until they get many months older. Seems like the ability to identify a face is so hard-wired into all our brains that we see them even when they don’t exist.

It reminded me of this picture I made almost 30 years ago, which turned up while I’ve been trying to sort out my negative files, which had got in some disarray.

We do, apparently, have the remarkable ability to remember 10,000 faces during our lifetimes but around 2.5% of the population are ‘face blind’, sufferers from prosopagnosia. Most don’t even know they have it.
They can see all the features but can’t ‘recognise’ the face as anyone they may or may not know. Facial recognition is handled by two parts of our brain; looking at this picture, one side immediately says ‘that could be a face‘ but the other side says ‘no, that’s not a face‘, unless it is, in which case it compares it with all the faces in our personal database to see if it’s anyone we recognise. That’s a gross over-simplification of what’s going on of course.
Someone with that deficiency may not see anything other than a black ball with three knobs here.

Original on Kodak TMAX 400, Hasselblad 503CX 80mm Sonnar, processed in T-Max developer.


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