Tag Archives: Facial Expressions

Doppelganger doco on Nine tonight

https://www.yourtv.com.au/program/finding-my-twin-stranger/358709/

My thoughts after viewing:

Not the most entertaining or interesting documentary that I’ve seen.

The pairs of “doppelgangers” featured on the show highlight the difference between popular or conventional notions of a doppelganger and the concept as I use it, being a super-recognizer. I didn’t find it clear how the pairs of supposedly same-looking people had been discovered, but I think some pairs discovered each other by accident by living in the same town or doing stand-up comedy  in the same festival and being mistaken for the other, while other pairs used some online face recognition tool to identify their “double” in another part of the world. In the matching methods, therefore, some pairs were matched by people looking at live, dynamic people, while other matches were made by technology looking at still images of faces. Not surprisingly, one pair who were matched with face shots and technology were of very different heights in person and not much of a match for skin colour or general facial resemblance.

All of the pairs on the show were matched in genders, age, skin colour, hair colour, hair texture and even non-biological aspects of appearance such the use of glasses to see with and even similar style of glasses worn. Throughout the show the scientist studying the pairs, using computer technology to compare static images or 3D computer models of the pairs faces, compared the similarity scores given for the matches to those typically found in identical twins, so the unspoken concept of the doppelganger used in the show was for the pairs to look so similar as to be identical, but none of the pairs had similarity scores in the same range as identical twins, overall. As soon as our daughter and I started watching the show we could pick that none were identical twins; there were always differences in faces that could be spotted in an instant that wouldn’t be there in identical twins. This concept of a twin-like doppelganger is entirely different to the kind of uncanny similarity that I occassionally spot between people, which is much more like a family or genetic similarity, as in close relatives or people who have the same genetic disorder that alterns appearance, but often neither of these explaantions are obvious. The doppelganger phenomenon that I spot can go across ages, genders, races and skin tones, but often the personalities are uncannily similar, in the same way that their faces are similar. My concept of “doppelganger” violates social norms, in that it suggests that there are more fundamental similarities between people than sharing the same gender or race or age, which many people might find odd or insulting.

The resemblance that I sometimes see between apparent strangers is in multiple aspects of the face that are remarkably similar in shape and appearance, which can include the hairline, the texture of the hair, beard-borderline pattern, the pattern of the teeth and jaw width, along with things that can’t be recorded in a static photograph, such as the way a person speaks, pronounces particular phonemes in a way that is independent of an accent, the rhythm and speed of the way they speak, unique or distinctive facial expressions and the context in which they are made, which might seen incongruous, and similar gestures or postures, such as the angle at which the head is usually held, and the overall personality. My concept of “doppelgangers” goes way beyond simple visual matching of two similar but non-identical images of faces, which is a task that even a machine could be designed to do. My concept of the doppelganger takes in the whole package of sound, speech, movement and facial appearance, and none of those elements alone are interesting or remarkable, because it is the matching of the same convergence of these types of characteristics in two different people that I notice. I believe this is a reflection of a biological similarity between people, and I think there was a hint of a similar sense of biological similarity at work in the documentary. Part-way through the doco pairs were shown givng saliva samples so that they could be compared for genetic similarities, in a similar process to the popular geneological services that aim to identify distant relatives by DNA. While one pair had remarkably similar racial profiles, it appears that only one (other) pair turned out to be actually related, and they were the pair that I felt I’d have the most trouble mixing up if I met them both, because of their similar overall movement style, voices and personalities and appearance. They were both stand-up comedians, which must count as a peronality similarity. This pair nevertheless did not receive a high score from the computer for facial similarity, but tellingly, they did receive the highest similarity score when rated by a crowd of people. Sadly, the fact that human rating managed to identify an objectively real genetic similarity in one of the pairs appeared to be ignored, in the documentary while the similarity ratings of static images by a computer algorithm was spoken of as an objective fact. Once again, it appears that the common infatuation with and awe of technology is a barrier to expanding scientific knowedge of identfying other people.

Famous doubles, celebrity doppelgangers, you know what I mean….

Late-night TV is the best TV, for many reasons: programs don’t have to rate well and don’t have to pander to the mindless masses, programs can have challenging or naughty content, such as satirical comedy or heart-rending documentaries, because of less restrictions from classifications, and news TV in the small hours picks up the best part of the news-creating day on the other side of the world where all the exciting stuff happens, and late-night news TV has shows from the BBC and other overseas news networks with serious content that operates on an entirely different level to the mediocrity of news in remote Perth or down-under Australia. One of these worthy foreign news programs that you only get to see at a ridiculous time of morning is the political interview show Conflict Zone. I do love watching Tim Sebastian glaring over his specs at major foreign public figures while relentlessly demanding that they answer his questions, in full. I have no idea why these politicians and assorted suits consent to these public inquisitions. Masochistic streak? It makes 7.30 on the ABC look like daytime chat.

My super-recognizer thing often “goes off” when I watch Mr Sebastian’s mature male face, with his dark eyes fixed on his prey and his head at a lowered angle that is reminiscent of a wolf’s aggressive stance. I know of no other journo or TV personality who has this “look”. It’s confronting.

I have absolutely no conscious intention to compare Mr Sebastian to any infamous historical figure, but I can’t help automatically seeing the visual facial resemblance and the emotional similarity in the situation between Mr Sebastian’s bracing interview style and scenes from a German movie featuring a mature male actor that are so over-the-top in interpersonal fury and entertaining that they have taken on a second life as internet meme fodder.

This bloke is the real thing

I’m amazed by two aspects of this interesting news story about an international competition run by the highly original author Douglas Coupland to find the world’s closest lookalike to the late great epileptic painter Vincent van Gogh. I’m amazed at how closely the British actor Daniel Baker in the photo shown visually resembles van Gogh in his face but also in so many other distinctive visible features. I can’t help wondering how closely the British man is like the legendary artist in his personality, talents and behaviour, if at all, and I’m also left wondering how far back the two might be related (all humans are related if you go back far enough), but all that is of course none of my business. This super-recognizer gives her seal of approval to the idea that Baker looks a heck of a lot like van Gogh. I am truly impressed, because I usually find celebrity lookalikes and lookalike competitions to be laughable due to the glaring differences between the faces of the “lookalike” and the real celebrity.

The other thing that I’m amazed about is the fact that all those other pictured men thought themselves as possible winners of the competition, when so many don’t really have faces or heads that look much like self-portraits of the artist (which we can assume were good likenesses). Being a van Gogh double requires more than having short ginger hair and beard and being a white man of similar age, with an intense look on your face. The face is the thing, and the shape of the head, the shape of the hairline and also the shape of the natural beardline, even the shape of the outline and the inner lines and the size of your ears (which may number one or two). I think it is interesting that it appears that the winner of the competition was not self-selected. It shows how little judgement some people apparently have into how visually close in resemblance one person is to another, which I guess is the result in a spectrum of person visual recognition ability.

I’m going to be really annoyed if in his acting career Baker never gets the chance to play van Gogh. It would be such a waste!

Van Gogh lookalike competition won by Dorset man. BBC News. November 25th 2016.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-dorset-38101522

 

But is it really Gina?

I’m well aware that weight loss, ageing and remodelled or drawn-on eyebrows can mess up our natural face recognition abilities, but even though, I’m not 100% convinced the lady in the photos is really the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart. I feel that the lady in the photo has quite a different personality than Rinehart, kinder but perhaps not as canny.

If this lady is the real Gina, I’m sure she’s had work done on her face, and in my opinion, her unique personality can no longer be seen in her face. I hate watching the fascinating faces of famous women all morph into that homogenous face of the older woman who has had her face done over.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart shows off amazing weight loss. Daily Telegraph. July 1 2016.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/mining-magnate-gina-rinehart-shows-off-amazing-weight-loss/news-story/145abfd505908795a600d5bb7e7b9197

 

It’s more than just face recognition

You would have to be a fool to think that the abilities of super-recognizers are limited to face memory and face recognition. I strongly suspect that another part of the parcel of ability is the highly sensitive recognition of body language, and by that I mean the total package of facial expressions and head and body movements and probably the associated vocal expressions that is characteristic, but not completely unique, to a person. Of course, these things are intimately linked with the static appearance of the face, and very often when I detect two individuals who have a strikingly similar physical expressive personality they will also have faces that are similar in many ways. My point is, that faces and people are not static objects, and judging super-recognition with tests that use photos probably does not begin to explore the total package of ability.

Not often, but now and then I’m struck and fascinated by the resemblance between the expressiveness of a person I know and some famous person, and also sometimes the similarity can be seen between famous people. One example would be when I was watching the Australian comedian Wil Anderson being interviewed in the One Plus One TV show. In this show he was much more animated than his usual TV appearances, probably because his style of comedy requires a quite cool, straight face, while in the interview he was responding to personal questions and was recounting personal stuff. I was struck by how much his expressive personality or body language seemed the same as the Australian comedy and straight role actor Garry McDonald AO. Do they have similar faces also? I think when you remove the differences in age and hair and facial hair and acting roles, there is a basic facial similarity, but I feel that it goes beyond that. There’s more to it than mere eyes and noses and mouths.

Perhaps you are wondering how researchers could test my proposition that supers are also specifically and separately super at recognizing or interpreting body language, without mixing up face recognition and body language recognition? I guess one could use computer generated images of human silhouettes or outlines as was done in this interesting piece of research about the ability to judge sexual orientation from body language. I’ll bet supers would gun such a test!

 

Pareidolia again at Sculptures by the Sea Cottesloe

definitely male and in a sombre mood

definitely not just a hunk of metal

mr melancholy by Paul Stanwick - Wright at Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe 2015

mr melancholy by Paul Stanwick-Wright at Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe 2015

Department of Parliamentary Services security staff need to identify Parliament House visitors by face – but how?

I’m watching a lot of discussion about the Abbott Government’s embarrassing reversal of the controversial “burqa ban” regarding visitors to the Australian federal parliament in Canberra. Media reports state that all visitors will be required to reveal their faces temporarily to security staff, but there is no proper explanation of why. Why do people need to show their faces to staff, unless their faces are being photographed, recorded or memorized using some kind of technology or human ability, or are being screened in a systematic way by a human or technological system that is based on a suitably comprehensive library of stored or memorized facial images? I have my doubts that any of these things are actually happening. I’ve read nothing to indicate that human super-recognizers or a technological substitute for this kind of face recognition ability is being used by police or security services in Australia, even though there is a large collection of media and scientific reports of human and computerized facial recognition being used in the UK and USA. Another question that I’ve not seen addressed in recent media reports is the question of who is going to be targeted by the new requirement of facial inspection, and what are the criteria for adequate facial disclosure. I believe passport photos require no glasses to be worn and a neutral facial expression, and this certainly makes sense in terms of human facial recognition. Will the same rules apply at Parliament House, or will men be allowed to walk into Parliament without removing any element of the “bogan disguise” of sunglasses, goatee beard and baseball cap? I wonder, are visitors routinely asked to remove hats and hoodies in Parliament House? Why haven’t we had calls for a ban on dark sunglasses in Parliament House? Dark sunnies are clearly used very commonly by Australians of all ethnic backgrounds as a facial concealment. They are very popular among police and also dodgy people. It is pretty obvious to me that racism has played a large role in this hoo-haa over faces and identity and security, because the hypocrisy is obvious.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/controversial-parliament-house-burqa-ban-dumped-20141020-118j5h.html

Do you have a trustworthy nose?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25973-face-tester-can-predict-how-you-will-judge-a-face.html#.U9kjiU0cRhE

Nothing simple about dyspraxia

A case of dyspraxia with possible prosopagnosia and significant issues with fine motor skills such as using zips and buttons and handwriting, but Victoria Biggs was also a precocious reader and an academically very high achiever as an adult. Fascinating! This case is evidence against my idea that reading, face memory and fine motor skills should cluster at similar levels of ability; high in my case and low in people who have Benson’s syndrome. But I think it is interesting that in Ms Biggs’ case she is at the extremes of levels of ability in all three. In the radio show other issues mentioned include finding one’s way through streets (suggestive of topographical disorientation or DTD), poor ability to plan including planning motor tasks, difficulty reading facial expressions and as a result difficulty reading social situations, and also displaying odd facial expressions. I’m amazed that the term “autism” didn’t come up once in this story, because there seems to be so much in Ms Biggs’ story that overlaps with countless accounts of autism or Asperger syndrome, not that I think autism would be an appropriate label. I don’t. I’d love to know whether Ms Biggs is a left-hander.

Victoria Biggs is the author of Caged in Chaos—A Dyspraxic’s Guide to Breaking Free.

Living with dyspraxia. presenter Amanda Smith

The Body Sphere. ABC Radio National.

Thursday 27 March 2014

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bodysphere/clumsiness/5348588

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bodysphere/caged-in-chaos/5326564

Personification is no joke! No laughing!

Grumpy Cat was one of the biggest things in popular culture in 2013, winning a Webby Award for the Meme of the Year. The cat is actually a slightly genetically deformed feline who has a face that just happens to appear to the human eye as though it is expressing human grumpiness. Some of the more inbred breeds of cat also seem to have this dish-pan face look. The attribution of grumpiness to a cat would be an example of the personification of an animal, or to use another term, anthropomorphism of an animal. I think there’s also a psychological phenomenon that goes the other way – I know people who look like grumpy Persian cats or owls or pigs or horses…. A type of synaesthesia in which people resemble animals has been noted in a very interesting 2012 research paper, which could I guess be an extreme manifestation of the common tendency to see animal form in the faces of some people.

In my blog I have been exploring the idea that whichever areas of the brain give rise to personification, including the varieties of personification that are now classified as types of synaesthesia, and maybe also the attribution of animal form to some human faces, are also parts of the brain involved with face recognition or superiority in face recognition or face memory. It’s all about recognizing visual patterns and linking those patterns with stored memories of living beings, be they animals or individual people. So this personification bizzo is very serious stuff, and I’m glad to say that the grumpy cat appears to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

Grumpy Cat Images. Know Your Meme. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/grumpy-cat/photos

Wikipedia contributors Grumpy Cat.  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Grumpy_Cat&oldid=588597988

E.G. MilánO. IborraM. HochelM.A. Rodríguez ArtachoL.C. Delgado-PastorE. SalazarA. González-Hernández Auras in mysticism and synaesthesia: A comparison. Consciousness and Cognition.  Volume 21 Issue 1, March 2012, Pages 258–268.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810011002868  (This paper is clearly a translation and difficult reading in parts)