Julian Wolkenstein’s Symmetrical Portraits take individual faces, split them down the middle, then mirror each side, creating two "new" identities from the same person.

According to science, the more symmetrical the face, the more attractive the folks.

Wolkenstein selected the subjects for his series because they had facial features he found interesting.

Some of the faces were surprisingly similar from side to side.

And some portraits looked like they were taken of two completely different people.

The hairstyles had a little something to do with the variation in visual from left-mirrored portrait to right-mirrored portrait.

Wolkenstein also launched an Echoism app, where anyone can snap a photo and upload it to the site.

The hair’s the thing here.

The hair’s the thing here.

Sometimes one side of the face is fuller than the other.

Another serious hairstyle departure from right to left.

Do you think you would recognize yourself split in two?

Co.Design

Would You Recognize Yourself With A Completely Symmetrical Face?

Julian Wolkenstein explores a scientific concept of beauty with a unique portrait series.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Right? Even though everyone’s charmed by wildly different kinds of physical characteristics (thank goodness!), that hasn’t stopped our old friend science from stepping in and asserting truths about what we are biologically inclined to find appealing. Julian Wolkenstein was intrigued that those with symmetrical faces were widely seen as more attractive, and set out to consider the idea in a series of portraits that mirror both the left and right halves of an individual’s visage, resulting in two often quite different depictions of the same person.

“I like messing around with facial particulars,” Wolkenstein tells Co.Design (a pleasure he also recently pursued in a project for the Museum of Helsinki’s Postiche Collection). In order to begin the unique de-and-reconstruction, he had to select his subjects. “They were real people, not models, with specific features that interested me." It’s remarkable how drastically their appearances change from one photo to the next, and it’s easy to imagine how strange it must be to see yourself with what essentially amounts to an entirely new visual identity. But the point of the project wasn’t necessarily to unsettle. “They can look at themselves in a new light,” he says. “It’s a time to reflect.”

Wolkenstein is still exploring the concept of Echoism, now with a way, way larger field. He launched an app where anyone can contribute their own self-pic, and it’s yielded an unexpected evolution of the project. For the artist, the most surprising part wasn’t, in fact, the varied results--it was the incredible response. “Over 40,000 people have uploaded images,” he says. “I now have the largest collection of symmetrical portraits in the world.”

(H/T notcot)

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42 Comments

  • what's extremely astonishing when looking at the portraits is that one mirrored image shows the person as purely good and the other image shows them as purely evil! I guess it manifests the yin yang traints of a man's character

  • Shouldn't the 2 halves at least be aligned accurately? The proportions are completely skewed. You can see it even when you observe their clavicles that the reflection points are off, making the faces appear squeezed/stretched.

  • Matt Sowerby

    Wait, as far as I understand the left image is a mirror of one side of the face and the right image a mirror of the other side of the face. Surely this can't be cause for so much controversy. Even on the interne- WAIT NO - bullshit HAS BEEN CALLED - well you can't be too careful these days on the internet - not sure about this one - I've been burned before - but that one where the cat barks like a dog out the window is real right? - please tell me that one's real - I hope it's real just give me that one - I've got to go Cheaters is on

  • Matt Sowerby

    Fuck this is the NEW 'Cheaters'? Where the hell is Joey Greco?!! FFFFFFUUUUUU!!!!!!!!

  • fdwr

    The photo series is beautiful, but Wolkenstein uses the old and simplistic mirroring approach which actually *amplifies* deviations from the norm onto both sides instead of just one side. That understandably explains why a number of the comments see one of the mirrored versions as worse than the original (particularly bad for noses that aren't perfectly aligned). More recent studies apply the symmetry using warping techniques so that the lighting and hairstyle and midline look natural. All the facial features remain in the same place - only the structure is made symmetric.

  • Thejustchad

    sorry I am calling bullshit, most of this is how tight the split is or shadowing

  • Jp_chgo

    Yes, exactly. Most are not split in the middle. Meaning one has a thinner nose and one has a wider nose.

    Showing the original, not mirrored image, would show how much the off-center dividing line distorts things.

  • Iikka Vaartëla

    It would be interesting to see one of these portraits of myself. Maybe it's time to start improving my photoshop skills.

  • annonymous

     I guess im different the norm but completely symmetrical faces are not attractive to me in the slightest

  • Mike Phillips

    The guy with tattoos seems to have different tats on his neck before and after - am I imagining that?

  • F Esquenazi

    one pic is mirroring the left side and one is mirroring the right side, he probably has different tattoos on each side of his neck, which is why both images have different tattoos

  • Toni

    No, but it makes sense if one tatt is on one side and the other tatt is on the other and then they do a mirror image for each side. 

  • nutmeg

    It's not before and after pics though - it's one pic split and each half mirrored.

  • Caty

    I know what you mean.. in the left, there are flower buds/blossoming, on the right, they're in bloom. it's great! 

  • Michael Pinney

    That's because he has a different tattoo on either shoulder. These aren't before and after shots, just symmetrical version of either side of the subjects face.

  • Conrad

    It even makes it difficult to figure out if the person is male or female, or both.