Untrained modern youths and ancient masters in self(ie) portraits

What do modern youths and ancient masters have in common? One possible commonality is they way they depict themselves in self portraits – specifically whether they tend to prefer giving preference to their left cheek or the right one.

“[…] a set of selfies and wefies by modern youths reveals comparable biases to self-portraits and portraits by master painters over the history of the visual arts. Assuming that our group of young selfie-takers had no academic training in painting, portraiture, and art history, these findings therefore support an account of posing preferences in terms of biologically determined asymmetries over an account based on culturally induced conventions.”

– explain a research team from the Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, Italy, and the School of Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK.

They make steps towards clarifying potential confusion with regard to image-reversal in smartphone cameras – as opposed to the mirrors which were often used by Old Masters for their pre-photographic selfies :-

“Because in smartphones the preview image is mirror-reversed, but the image file is saved as taken from a front camera (non-mirror-reversed), a saved image with the selfie-taker on the left signals a preference for a (mirror-reversed) preview image where the selfie-taker is on the right.”

See: Nicola Bruno, Carole Bode & Marco Bertamini (2016): Composition in portraits: Selfies and wefies reveal similar biases in untrained modern youths and ancient masters, in: Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 27 May 2016.

Note that mirror (and smartphone) portraits are only reversed left-right rather than up-down – a much discussed phenomenon. Here’s Richard Feynman’s take on it . . .

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