Beauty is a currency

I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO THAT

No one knows how to respond to that, the crimson port-wine stain on the right side of my face I was born with. My family didn’t know how to respond to that (it’s still the elephant in the room), doctors didn’t know how to respond (in the ‘90s an expert wanted to take some of the skin from my ass to stick it on the birthmark), societies of different periods didn't know how to respond (for witch hunters birthmarks were “devil’s marks”, for Nazism potential reasons to conduct inhuman experiments in name of the pure race, for Ellis Islands’s agents one of the parameters to reject immigrants from entering in America, for Cesare Lombroso signs of criminal morals). Contemporary AI-based systems don’t know how to respond to that: both entertaining “swap face” apps and more expensive beauty analytic reports by online consultant agencies, respond by ignoring the birthmark, getting rid of it, and considering only the conventional left side as input to generate their outputs. I only know how to respond to that: my birthmark is like an arm, an eye, something I don’t want to live without.

“Beauty is a Currency” wants to investigate the complexity of being born with an imperfection like a crimson birthmark, a failure to be captured and corrected in an inevitably controlled system, where beauty is as potent a social force as race or sex, where more money is spent on beauty than on education (USA), where 2023 showed a 19.3% overall increase in procedures performed by plastic surgeons.

"Beauty Is a Currency" aims to highlight that failure, and challenge conventional standards of beauty by using the same tools the system is applying to get rid of the imperfection: AI, 3D software, photogrammetry, facial recognition applications, and more.

Errors are deviations from the norm and therefore expand our knowledge of what is standard. As such, errors are features not to be ignored.

The project includes the short video: “Beauty is a currency” (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oAyrg9wogx26Xjrsa_BHUWrloMVQqTGj/view?usp=sharing).

Here is a link to some installation shots from a group show back in 2022, as an example of how I would like to exhibit the project (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1pSvNE55hbU9ODDL8IhivNgjxIJar1beJ?usp=sharing). I would also like to present some objects I collected during my research (see this link to see some of the items, https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1S7eEbFTYwRyO4RT38AG5Vr2n0JQLOvKm?usp=sharing) and provide a questionnaire for the viewers to fill out about their relationship with beauty and how they will respond to that.