Friday, May 23, 2003

There she is, the virtual Miss Germany...

German university scientists have displayed a series of tests at Beautycheck, which show that the growing move towards computer-fixed media portrayals of models and movie stars is a bit frightening from a social standpoint.

Their website, which is in English, explains in brief:

All this shows that we judge people and ourselves on a totally unrealistic basis. We compare ourselves with the most beautiful faces of the world which seem to be omnipresent in the media. They are integral parts in movies, in music video-clips, in commercials, they are on the title pages of magazines, on posters and so on. But the most absurd thing is that these “natural” faces the way they are depicted do not exist in reality either. Most of them are at least partially "artificial". Their digital images are increasingly optimized by modern image processing software. By doing so faces are generated with attributes that are unreachable for even the most famous super models.

What I found the most surprising was their Virtual Miss Germany test page (which you will find in their links at the left when you follow the link above.) They did a computerized composite of all the 22 contestants in the 2002 Miss Germany contest, who were asked to pose with neutral expressions, no makeup and hair pinned back. They then had test subjects compare the composite, whom I will call "Miss Fotoschoppisch", to a regular but blah headshot of the winner of the real contest, Miss Berlin. "Miss Fotoschoppisch" won hands down!