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Inverted Portraits of Humans Look Like Space Creatures

Curators’ Corner

Inverted Portraits of Humans Look Like Space Creatures

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

When self-help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer crafted that quote, little did he know it would form the inspiration behind a surreal photography project by South African artist Aneia Loubser.

In her Alienated photo series, the Cape Town native captured close-up black and white portraits of middle-aged people – with every wrinkle, frown line, scar and hair follicle detailed to perfection. Then, to throw the viewer completely off, Loubser cropped the images and flipped them upside down, transforming normal human faces into what she describes as beings from outer space.

The project challenges our brains to form something familiar out of the unfamiliar. By using the eyes of the subjects as the baseline, eyebrows become oddly shaped mustaches, forehead wrinkles transform into contorted smiles and scars take on the appearance of tiny nostrils. If aliens do exist in some distant galaxy, Loubser’s portraits probably wouldn’t be too far off the visual mark. Even E.T. would be impressed with the artist’s work.

“Be introduced to the alienated being inside us all, disconcerting beauty emerges. The work is on the one hand strangely aesthetic, on the other hand mysteriously eerie,” Loubser writes on her website.

“I think we as people are psychologically and intellectually compelled to solve the mystery,” she adds. “Our brain has the unique ability to fill in gaps to recognize faces even from just general key qualities. With portraits from Alienation we are instinctively challenged and we relish in the pleasure of solving the mystery.”

Alienated was showcased at a South African art gallery back in April, but only recently went viral after an art enthusiast stumbled across Loubser’s Behance profile. After the fan posted the project to various other websites, the exposure snowballed.

“The response has been overwhelming and I don’t think you can ever fully prepare yourself for it. I experience such a great feeling of gratitude that I really do want to respond to every message I receive, this has the capability to keep me up [until] 3 in the morning. I am very happy that people have been receiving Alienation with so much positivity and open mindedness,” Loubser said.

Check out a selection of the portraits below and visit Anelia Loubser’s website for an other-worldly experience.

Photos courtesy of Anelia Loubser