Visual Culture Program
From selfie culture to eugenics, the face has deep cultural meaning. In this panel, artist, designer, and writer Jessica Helfand and Professor Ralph Adolphs will present their work on faces, followed by a discussion. Helfand's recently published book, Face: A Visual Odyssey (MIT Press), looks at everything from historical mugshots to Instagram posts to examine how the face has been perceived and represented over time, how it has been instrumentalized by others, and how we have reclaimed it for our own purposes. She will discuss her series of paintings, titled "The Cushing Portraits," which were inspired by American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing's clinical photographs of his patients taken more than 100 years ago. In Ralph Adolphs' lab, researchers look at the neurology of faces differently. His research investigates the neural underpinnings of human social behavior, pursuing questions such as: How do we recognize emotion from facial expressions? And, how do we make social judgments about other people? They have found that stereotypes, biases, judgements of amiability, and even political corruption are rooted in people's reactions to faces. This cross-disciplinary dialog will explore connections across these diverse areas of research and practice.
About the Visual Culture Program
The Caltech-Huntington Program in Visual Culture, which is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and based in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), features undergraduate course offerings, guest lecturers, and other programming to foster conversations between humanists and scientists. Its activities are organized by HSS and other Caltech faculty in collaboration with scholars at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.