Faces Are Important. But I Can’t Recognize Them.


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Faces Are Important. But I Can’t Recognize Them.

What does it mean to live with prosopagnosia? An animator discloses the different ways he lives his life because he can’t recognize faces.

May 3, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
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By Steven Fraser

Mr. Fraser is a filmmaker.

When I was going through the diagnosis process for autism, it became apparent that I did not recognize faces. When I’d look at people’s faces, I would struggle to identify them — even if we had met before. This is commonly known as face blindness, or prosopagnosia.

This led me to start thinking about what faces really are and the different features that make them up. Being an artist, I filled my sketchbooks with drawings of faces. I took photographs of myself and kept audio and written diaries. These mediums helped me discover coping mechanisms that I could use to determine who people were. I eventually collected these sketchbooks, photographs and diaries, as well as some other personal items that had aided me, and put them all together into a memory box.

The short documentary above looks inside this box and uncovers stories of identity, isolation, relationships and determination. I animated the objects to evoke the complexity of feeling that comes with prosopagnosia and to convey a unique, personal outlook on what life is like when you find it difficult to recognize other people.

Steven Fraser is an animator, artist and writer who creates short films, comics, zines, performances and installations.

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