by Lionel Deng .

Architectural Faces

I remember quite awhile ago, there was this thing at school where somehow everyone, perhaps inevitably, under sophomoric tendencies, became obsessed with the idea of psychoanalysis and "seeing the truth" in people through "the windows of their souls - their eyes" and the crinkles on their faces; and I just personally felt so intimidated because I felt like everyone was going around poking at everyone else's veneer while I, even after hours of staring at images of eyeballs and faces on the internet, never understood what the hell they were talking about it.

It was probably really pretentious at that time, given these 13-14 year old boys were going around having "psycho-analytical" spars with each other and then expounding on their observations of one another, but in way I guess this was an obvious and necessary culmination of the most basic way we relate to one another.

Well I still don't seem to be able to feel the depths of other people's "souls" -period- let alone deriving it just by looking at their faces or into their eyes (like seriously can someone tell me if this is just some poetic excuse to creep..?), and I know we've all been brought up to renounce this tendency to judge superficially on superficial bases, but increasingly it seems like we should be embracing this inclination, if only as an intellectual romp, not because of some reverse-psychology irony that elevates us, maybe because everyone loves (to be like) Wilde, but mostly because it just seems practical and true.

I know it sounds cruel, and I'm not asking for everyone to start being a bitch and all, but it just seems to be mawkish & indecisive of us to not want to acknowledge our superficial judgement of others, when most of us not only do judge but even act on those judgements, for fear of some kinda epidemic hedonism we might start off, when we could instead simply be appreciating this common, instinctual appreciation for beauty and sensuality which, when we openly acknowledge, might perhaps make society's notions of beauty far more malleable and accommodating; and I honestly think this pseudo-self-denial painfully dehumanizes and desensitizes us, making us these commonly insecure psychos desperate as hell to hook up with every other gorgeous human specimen we see on Tumblr and yet hesitant to "like" a crush's photos on Facebook for fear of seeming too "desperate" and "insecure" when we "really aren't" but really are.. . . (is that just me though? I don't know teenagery is confusing)

"It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."

- Oscar Wilde

Anyways back to the main purpose of this post - beautiful (strange(ly) & architectural) faces

  1. Klaus nOmi :  

There is something so stark and penetrating about this face.. A friend told me it reminded her of Greek Classical Theatre and there is something almost dramatic and caricatured about this look.. sensuous yet edificial, imperious yet intimate, ascetic yet decadent. I've always found portraiture one of the most beautiful yet ambiguous things, probably for the same reason as those stated above, but especially some of them reveal sides to people that we otherwise would never commonly have known.

2. Grace Jones (my queen)

Scary as hell and beyond this reality, it's like everything about her was just designed to crush all normative standards... that outrageous bone structure, those whacked out eyes, those thick, voluptuous lips just seething with sex... it's like extraterrestial iconoclasticism was built into her bones.

We're all slaves to her striking Rhythm

3. Diana Vreeland

There are two women I'm constantly drawn back to: Susan Sontag and Diana Vreeland. From all that I know about her (which isn't very much) Vreeland seems to have lived with such grace and fervor... such a soul.

From her impeccable hairdo which frames her face and gives her almost an imperious air, to her angular nose which informs such character, those endearing but sharp eyes, and those luscious lips bequeathed with the saunter of her soul - her wisdom, her gregariousness, her electrifying presence, you felt like all her defining traits were curtly manifest; her soul was bubbling out from within.

4. Kazuo Ohno

I don't know why but for some reason Diana Vreeland always reminded me of Kazuo Ohno, which is strange given that though in my mind they look alike, Diana's ebullient spirit always ran in contrats to Kazuo Ohno's jestful but anguish-ridden mask... it was probably alwas because both their hands were so electric!

He always reminds me of that ghost from Spirited Away.

5. Mick Jagger

There is something so perfectly modern-masculine about Jagger's face.. fluid but not androgynous, and beautifully so. Almost all its features are defined by their duality: those eyes which can turn from frank and genial to alluring and murderous, those lips which, though always full and sensuous, sometimes betray a childlike innocence and at other times seethe with a knowing yet still alluring sex-appeal, and that crazy ass jaw which asserts an almost superior frankness / nonchalance.

6. Zhang Ziyi

At first I wasn't really sure what to think of Zhang Ziyi, but ever since Memoirs of a Geisha I've been completely hooked on her. I know "porcelain(ness?)" might be a weird way to describe her, given its connotations of hollywood plasticity/superficiality, but that's what's captivating about her... a certain pastoral, serene beauty.

Also, her dance scene in Memoirs of a Geisha is THE most beautiful thing I've ever fucking seen.. that was just absolute perfection and I spend the first 10 minutes of every day just meditating, hoping to sear that into my mind's eye.

That being said though, it remains that most of the time the depicted "essences" of others simply elude me.. . . especially the case when looking at mugshots / inmates. It's strangely creepy how they aren't necessarily reticent or unaffected, but just that they reflect such normal expressions, that when taken in the context of the heinous things they've done, there's almost a disconnect... It's probably very cruel of us to judge them and label them as "evil" and thereby dehumanize them, but it's just weird how we don't see the extreme experiences seared into their faces. (It's also LARGELY because I'm probably just really inept at deducing these thingums)

Case in point:

Into the Abyss by Herzog

It is so eerie how both the inmates essentially refuse to acknowledge their participation in the murder of a woman (when one of them confessed guilty I think?) in the interviews with them and yet nothing seems to betray any sense of conscientiousness / guilt...

Also, has anyone who's seen the film noticed that the creepy extraterrestrial echo-ey voice effect that Herzog edited into the film at the start strangely starts to fade as the movie goes on, and yet I've discovered that when you pause the film at any dialogue in the later parts, and resume the film from that same part, the whacked out echo-ey voice effects return! I can't figure out if it's a technical or psychological thing... Psycho-Social Aspects of Context Awareness in Ambient Intelligent Mobile System?

Anyways, to round up, one of the most stunning music videos I've seen in awhile by Janele Monae


  1. Tamara
    05:55 29 May 2012
    This is a genius post! These things should be talked about more often. What a lovely, deep and intellectual post, without pretentions. Bravo
  2. sartorialgirl
    13:27 31 May 2012
    Intriguing, thought-provoking.... brilliant.