Matt Jones has posted a great discussion piece on Berg London: "Humanising data" in which he discusses design solutions which are in sympathy with the point that mysteriously, faces appear to surround us, created seemingly magically from the everyday.
I chipped in with a few thoughts in a post, given that I was mulling over this very thing as I returned home the other day. The conclusion I came to was this. Here's what a typical baby development site says about the development of sight in the newborn:
"At first your baby can't focus farther than 8 to 15 inches away — just
far enough to make out the face of the person holding him. He can
detect light, shapes, and movement beyond that, but it's all pretty
blurry right now. Appropriately enough, your face is the most
fascinating thing to your baby at this age (followed by high-contrast
patterns such as a checkerboard), so be sure to give him plenty of
At birth your baby didn't know how to use his eyes in tandem, so they may have wandered randomly or even crossed now and then. This month or next, he'll be able to consistently focus both eyes and track a moving object. A rattle passed in front of his face will often transfix him as he explores this newfound ability. He may also enjoy playing eyes-to-eyes with you: With your face very close to his, move your head slowly from side to side, with your eyes and his eyes locked."
Mothers' faces and bodies are optimised to accommodate their new offspring's limited vision capacity. Dark eyebrows, dark eye centres with white surrounds, dark lips and nostril holes and also importantly, dark nipple circles for feeding (ok, that's not a face, but there are two of them. not sure how relevant that is but still).
Put simply, it appears to me that the proliferation of faux faces around us in everyday design is asa direct result of this first visual stimulus. We are pre-programmed to fall in love with the human face - the Mother's face. It is the first source of comfort, safety and reassurance for us. I don't think it is an enormous stretch of the imagination to suppose that this formative experience has an *enormous* effect on our growing intellects, and my suggestion therefore is not only do we seek out these faces, either consciously or otherwise, as consumers but we do also as creators. The face: stylised, unwittingly introduced, or confidently asserted represents something so fundamental to our visual sensibilities that we are as drawn to it as we would be any comfort blanket. The face - the Mother's face is the original security and reassurance device.
What I'm missing in this epic thesis is any theoretical discussion or reference to back it up. I can't begin to assume that this thought is in any way unique and new. So anyone got anything interesting they would like to cite?Here are some faces, for your enjoyment: