Photo: Lars Klove for The New York Times / Manipulation by Tommer Leyvand
Tommer Leyvand and colleagues have created a "beautification engine," a software program that uses a mathematical formula to alter a person's face into what theoretically is the more "beautiful" version, while retaining "unmistakable similarity" to the original:
Studies have shown that there is surprising agreement about what makes a face attractive. Symmetry is at the core, along with youthfulness; clarity or smoothness of skin; and vivid color, say, in the eyes and hair. There is little dissent among people of different cultures, ethnicities, races, ages and gender.
Yet, like the many other attempts to use objective principles or even mathematical formulas to define beauty, this software program raises what psychologists, philosophers and feminists say are complex, even disturbing, questions about the perception of beauty and a beauty ideal.
To what extent is beauty quantifiable? Does a supposedly scientific definition merely reflect the ideal of the moment, built from the images of pop culture and the news media?