Britons spend over £225m on cosmetic surgery and 25,000 people undergo treatment each year. Research into DNA engineering suggests there could be a time when what we look like will be genetically programmed.
Professor Sandra Kemp, the curator of the exhibition, fears the bombardment of digitally enhanced images in the media and on our PCs will lead us to lose the features which make the face unique.
“Lots of people don’t have sticky photo albums anymore. Their pictures are held digitally and they can be altered on Photoshop. People are enhancing their faces all the time. We are subtlely being conditioned by the digital face and heading towards a face which no human being could have been born with. This face is smooth and narrow, with a small jaw, big lips and manga Japanese eyes for the females.”
But the wider repercussions could be more significant. The exhibition hints that alterations to the face can have a huge impact on our conception of identity.
Future Face at the Science Museum runs until 13 February 2005.