REMEMBER WHEN YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER WAS RUINED BY A MOVIE? THIS IS SO MUCH WORSE.
What did Tyrion Lannister look like before he was played by Peter Dinklage? Who was Hermione Granger before being cast by Emma Watson? I don’t remember. Whatever mental images I had for these beloved characters was washed away by corporeal faces.
Not only can I not get their pictures back; I’m not sure that I ever really had them in the first place. If I could draw–which I can’t–could I have sketched their ethereal profiles? Did I know the specific locations of Tyrion’s moles or the precise curvature of Hermione’s nose?
The Composites is a Tumblr blog and art project by Brian Joseph Davis that proposes what various literary characters look like. But rather than stemming entirely from his own imagination, these characters are profiled with a pseudo-objectivity through forensic software program Faces ID. He reads a character’s descriptive passage in a book, then he uses the software to assemble their face from the 10,000 available noses, eyes, ears, and mouths.
“I like technology not considered art,” Davis tells Co.Design. “And after discovering there was publicly available software, I thought this could be something that explored the similarities between a witness’s memories and its gaps, and the writer and the readers’ limitations and gaps.”
Literature is a medium that’s known to be a stepping-off point for the imagination, and The Composites gleefully teases that fact, challenging the nature of imagination in the face of hard evidence.
His images are also intriguing because of a tacit criminal element. Much like the context of a mugshot, when a character is sketched in a dead-eyed forensic profile, you can’t avoid asking yourself: What did they do wrong? “Well the truth is, there is a constraint to the characters that I chose,” admits Davis. “Each one has a touch of criminality. Even Daisy Buchanan committed a hit and run against a member of the 99 percent.”
Daisy Buchanan also broke Gatsby’s heart, which I’ve always considered a crime unto itself.
Marla Singer, Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
My power animal is Marla…Black hair and pillowy French lips. Faker. Italian dark leather sofa lips…Marla stares up at me. Her eyes are brown. Her earlobes pucker around earring holes, no earrings…She actually felt alive. Her skin was clearing up…Marla never has any fat of her own, and her mom figures that familial collagen would be better than Marla ever having to use the cheap cow kind…Short matte black hair, big eyes the way they are in Japanese animation, skim milk thin, buttermilk sallow in her dress with a wallpaper pattern of dark roses…Her black hair whipping my face…The color of Marla’s brown eyes is like an animal that’s been heated in a furnace and dropped into cold water. They call that vulcanized or galvanized or tempered. (Multiple suggestions)
Ignatius J. Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs. In the shadow under the green visor of the cap Ignatius J. Reilly’s supercilious blue and yellow eyes looked down upon the other people waiting under the clock at the D.H. Holmes department store, studying the crowd of people for signs of bad taste in dress. (Multiple suggestions )
Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Someone advanced from the sea of faces, someone tall and gaunt, dressed in deep black, whose prominent cheekbones and great, hollow eyes gave her a skull’s face, parchment-white, set on a skeleton’s frame…her hollow eyes never leaving my eyes… I watched her, fascinated, horrified; a queer ecstatic smile was on her lips, making her older than ever, making her skull’s face vivid and real… her mouth working strangely, and dragging at the corners.
Updated image: Slightly younger, deeper eyes.
Kevin, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver
His face had that ferret-like sharpness from his earliest years…The narrow olive face is instantly familiar: recessed eyes, sheer straight nose with a wide bridge and slight hook, thin lips set in an obscure determination…But I wanted him to look like you. His whole geometry was based on the triangle and yours on the square, and there is something cunning and insinuating about acute angles, stable and trustworthy about the perpendicular…. I wanted to glance at my son’s profile and apprehend with a flash of lambent joy that he had your strong tall forehead—rather than one that shelved sharply over eyes that might begin as strikingly deep-set but were destined with age to look sunken. (Suggested by Lameyxx)
Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth…a conscientious expression…Slenderly, languidly…an expression of unthoughtful sadness…her cheeks flushed…she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society…a bright ecstatic smile…Aching, grieving beauty… For Daisy was young and her artificial world was redolent of orchids and pleasant, cheerful snobbery…Girls were swooning backward playfully into men’s arms, even into groups knowing that some one would arrest their falls—but no one swooned backward on Gatsby and no French bob touched Gatsby’s shoulder. (Multiple suggestions)
Updated image: Reader Tessa Cramphorn points out that “autumn-leaf yellow of her hair” is in reference to Jordan Baker. Further, Tessa provides this line describing Daisy’s hair as “dark shining.” Composites fact checker Emily Schultzbelieves there is a contradiction in Fitzgerald’s text regarding Daisy Buchanan’s hair, noting the passage where Daisy compares her own hair to her daughter’s “yellowy hair.”
The Finn, “Burning Chrome” and Neuromancer, William Gibson
He looks like a recombo DNA project aimed at tailoring people for high-speed burrowing…The man who stood blinking now in the doorway behind them, the blanket draping one shoulder like a cape, seemed to have been designed in a wind tunnel. His ears were very small, plastered flat against his narrow skull, and his large front teeth, revealed in something that wasn’t quite a smile, were canted sharply backward. He wore an ancient tweed jacket and held a handgun of some kind in his left hand. He peered at them, blinked, and dropped the gun into a jacket pocket. (Suggested by enki2)
Tess, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
She was a fine and handsome girl—not handsomer than some others, possibly—but her mobile peony mouth and large innocent eyes added eloquence to colour and shape… The pouted-up deep red mouth to which this syllable was native had hardly as yet settled into its definite shape, and her lower lip had a way of thrusting the middle of her top one upward, when they closed together after a word…Phases of her childhood lurked in her aspect still. As she walked along to-day, for all her bouncing handsome womanliness, you could sometimes see her twelfth year in her cheeks, or her ninth sparkling from her eyes…a thick cable of twisted dark hair hanging straight down her back to her waist. (Multiple suggestions)
Aomame, 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
5’6…Not once ounce of excess fat…The left ear much bigger than the right, and malformed, but her hair always covers her ears…Lips formed a tight straight line…Small narrow nose, somewhat protruding cheekbones, broad forehead, and long, straight eyebrows…[Face is a] Pleasing oval shape…Extreme paucity of expression. (Suggested by goya-galileo-vangogh )
Judge Holden, Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
An enormous man dressed in an oilcloth slicker had entered the tent and removed his hat…He was bald as a stone and he had no trace of beard and he had no brows to his eyes nor lashes to them…He was close on to seven feet in height… His face was serene and strangely childlike…His hands were small. (Multiple suggestions.)
Click here to see more sketches on Davis’s Tumblr.
Found on fastcodesign.com