Saturday, January 22, 2011

selective memory

This is gravely embarrassing but I'm going to post 3 (horrible) images. They're all attempts at drawing a person, a real living one that I've seen quite frequently the last couple of years (although never in real life).
The first is entirely from memory. Been at least 24 hours since I saw a picture or video or whatever of him. It's also without "warming up" my drawing hand which might explain a shard of its suckiness.
The second image is an attempt at redraming that image while looking at reference pictures (Google). This was done rather quick and dirty, if I'd put my mind to it I could have adjusted it much more, and I'm not really satisfied, but it's there to provide a middle step.
The third is an "overlay", meaning I copypasted a photo beneath the drawing and redrew the lines that needed to change. It's not a "copy" exactly because it's still black-and-white linework, and since I started the drawing without a specific photo in mind I had to find a photo that had approximately the same angle and posture so a tiny bit of adjustment was required.

So why am I doing this? (Broadcasting my drawing failiures to the world, I mean :P) Because it's a fascinating. When I look at a familiar face I don't actually *look* at it. Neither do I really *see* it when I think of that person. When I was done with the first drawing I was rather sure it was at least decent. By the time the second drawing was done I was aware of that it lacked greatly but didn't quite know how to fix it. And then with the overlay, I can kinda see that it's him, but it looks terrible. (Although that's also because of my low drawing skills and the simplicity of the image.) The way he looks in my mind is probably somewhere between the second and third. How he really looks... I think I'm unable to see anymore. Maybe if someone knocked me on the head so I lost all memory of him. I remember clearly that I saw pictures of him long ago and paid him no attention, but over time he's grown to be the most handsome man on the planet. Clearly that doesn't have all that much to do with how the actually looks, because now when I studied him more as a visual composition - he didn't look at all like I know he does.
Is it me "filling in the blanks" with what I want to be there? I know I get the same feeling when I look at a friend or family member and really only look without seeing their face. I can think, Wow, she's really pretty or Was that how he looked?. Thinking of a person really only calls up some rough markers in my head. Hair, general body shape, general face shape, and for some people eyes. Then everyone have behavioral markers that aren't strictly looks but are effectively inseparable from their visual impact; their movement patterns, signature nervous habits, eye movements.

So beauty truly must lie in the eye of the beholder. Can a face be objectively, unemotionally beautiful? It can be structurally perfected I suppose. Symmetry and golden ratio and all that. But does that really make something we love? Beauty comes from the inside, to pull up another cliché - maybe it does in the sense that what you do creates behavioral markers that fill in the blank spaces with exactly what your watchers want to see?

If he really looked like how I see him in my head, would he even look human? Would I, if I saw him outside my head in the real world, even like what I saw? Actually, I think no. When I look closer at photos I always think it doesn't quite look like him. I think what makes him so beautiful, is all that he is that I know of, overlayed with the linework of my mind. We're all little artists like that :)

If you wanna know what he looks like on photo, just Google Jaejoong. Bother linking and shit.


Riklurt said...

"Are you the sweet invention of a lovers' dream, or are you really as beautiful as you seem?"

-Riklurt, providing utterly unhelpful quotes since 1994

Sara said...

Okay, so before I read this post I just scrolled past the pictures and my reaction was as follows:
pic 1) She drew a man
pic 2) Kind of the same
pic 3) Oh it's that Korean guy she loves..

I don't know what this adds really but it was an interesting experience...

Yeonni said...

It is, I mean, I can't actually see him "as other people do" or "as he actually looks" as little as I can see how you look anymore :P So it's interesting that you'd recognize him in the last picture, where I can barely do so.