We have long accepted the face as the most natural and self-evident thing, believing that in it we could read, as if on a screen, our emotions and our doubts, our anger and joy. We have decorated them, made them up, designed them, as if the face were the true calling card of our personality, the public manifestation of our inner being.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than a window opening onto our inner nature, the face has always been a technical artefact—a construction that owes as much to artificiality as to our genetic inheritance. From the origins of humanity to the triumph of the selfie, Marion Zilio charts the history of the technical, economic, political, legal, and artistic fabrication of the face. Her account of this history culminates in a radical new interrogation of what is too often denounced as our contemporary narcissism. In fact, argues Zilio, the “narcissism” of the selfie may well reconnect us to the deepest sources of the human manufacture of faces—a reconnection that would also be a chance for us to come to terms with the non-human part of ourselves.
This highly original reflection on the fabrication of the face will be of great value to students and scholars of media and culture and to anyone interested in the pervasiveness of the face in our contemporary age of the selfie.