Face Splitting

Voice Card  -  Volume 5  -  John Card Number 16  -  Sun, Mar 12, 1989 1:03 AM

First of all I would like to thank Tomás for including an artsy picture of himself (shown at left). It would be ideal for a member card picture, but I still need a tight, full-face headshot (not a profile).

And why am I so picky? Well, I was going to surprise you, but since it will probably be a L O N G time before all the members send me such pictures, I may as well let you in on my devious plans.

If and when all the pictures arrive, I intend to create a Mr. Wizard stack featuring a bizarre art form I discovered a few years ago. It turns out that most people's faces are not quite symmetric, that is, the left half is NOT a mirror image of the right.

With a little simple computer graphics wizardry, it is possible to take one half of a face, form a true mirror image, and paste the two pieces together to form a never-before-seen face! If you do the same thing with the other half you have two never-before-seen faces.

The intriguing thing is that these two faces are often very different from one another, and from the original face from which they sprang. In my case, one half looks like a cross between Opie (from the Andy Griffith show) and Tom Brokaw. The other half looks like a police artist sketch of an armed robber.

One speculates that perhaps these two faces reveal something about the hidden personalities of their owners, the left half of a personality and the right half brought into the light for the first time. After all, each side of your face is controlled by a different hemisphere of the brain. I notice, for example, that I have a crooked smile - only half of me smiles most of the time.

Even if it doesn't mean anything, the two new faces can be quite astonishing. One problem is that the subject must be looking DIRECTLY into the camera, or the split images will be grotesquely distorted. Even so, all I need is a photocopy of a standard passport photo. If and when everyone complies, you can all look forward to a startling installment of Mr. Wizard!

Late breaking bulletin: a week or so after writing this card I received a Science News with an article in which researchers document greater emotional intensity on the right side of the face in infants even though in adults the reverse is true. Much to my surprise they used this very same face splitting technique in their study! Science marches on!