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Visual Culture Program

Thursday, January 23, 2020
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Gates-Thomas 115
Super Recognizers to the Rescue
Sharrona Hyla Pearl, Historian and Theorist of the Face and Body,
  • Public Event

Super recognizers are just that: people who can recognize others much, much better than the rest of us. They remember every face they've encountered, even fleetingly, so that if they again see a face they once passed in a crowd, or meet someone they served (or who served them) in a restaurant or store, or finally get introduced to that person who is clearly on the same bus commute, they will remember them. They will know that they have seen that person before, and they will know when and where. Here's where it gets really useful – super recognizers can identify faces even when they are mostly obscured, extremely blurry or out of focus, or a small spot among many. Which is to say: super recognizers can identify faces (or eyes, or a nose, or ears) captured on camera, even when those faces are doing their best not to be seen. This talk will explore the diagnostic history and rhetoric around super recognizers, focusing in particular on limitations around the notion of "the spectrum" and how a more humanistic approach to neurology would deeply benefit the field of super recognition.

About the Visual Culture Program
The Caltech-Huntington Program in Visual Culture, which is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and based in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), features undergraduate course offerings, guest lecturers, and other programming to foster conversations between humanists and scientists. Its activities are organized by HSS and other Caltech faculty in collaboration with scholars at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

For more information, please contact Caroline Murphy by phone at 626-395-2084 or by email at [email protected].