As plastic surgery becomes increasingly normalized as an act of self-care, it is essential to consider the ways in which facial beauty has been enacted as data on the surface of the body. Taking seriously the paradox “raw data is an oxymoron,” this article explores how facial beauty has been algorithmized in the recent past as a geometrical proof based on the golden ratio. As an overlay system founded in the late 1990s, the Marquardt Mask claims to beautify any face. Yet, it achieves this universalism via its interdisciplinary exploitation of mathematics and biology. The mask thus participates in a cybernetic paradigm of control by abstracting human faciality as an aesthetic feedback loop evidenced in life and nature.
Kallie Strode is a PhD student in Film and Media Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research concentrates on the intersection between and among feminisms, design, and technology.