Faces – Features Translating Emotions

In past posts I have spoken about pareidolia, or the ability for us to recognise familiarity in things such as clouds, rocks and even other planets.

This idea, that familiarity is projected on inanimate objects and their shapes is truly human. Our imagination has the ability to give life to seemingly mundane detritus. A line here and a shadow there could give the impression of a smiling face.
I like this idea.

A series of sculptures I made, titled Meta-Phor, resembled those yellow faces of emoji symbols used in our daily digitised communiques – a yellow circle, two dots and a line. In the digital version slight differences in size and orientation of the dots and line, or adding a tear, lets this simple symbol translate facial emotion; communicate volume without the use of words 😉

My Meta-Phors are “found object” or “ready made” constructs of stone elements. A large flat stone painted yellow as the face; two smaller stones painted white and black as eyes; a stone painted red as lips or tongue… and then connected.
I love these Meta-Phors so much that I decided to use them in a photo graphic ensemble.

These quirky faces now float above black and white photographs. The backgrounds are from a variety of places and subjects:
– Wispy clouds over Hangklip, Pringle Bay, Western Cape, South Africa
– Scratched graffiti on a wall at the old fort above Wonderboom, Pretoria, South Africa
Package 1961, by Christo in MOMA, New York, USA (upside down)

The backgrounds are places I have visited and the faces are obscure “emotions” floating above these. My choice of subjects and format – background and sculpted yellow face/symbol in a square image – is ambiguous, yet it evokes something in us.

Probably a latent reaction to the way we communicate digitally, through symbols and images… a type of tautology between our digital lives and the analogue reality around us.


Meta-Phors are digitally printed using a ceramic ink fired into glass. There is only one edition of each. #2 & #3 will be on show at the Trent Gallery for the Indestructible Group Exhibition opening on the 31st of August 2018.

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