The future face of Cologne

The future face of Cologne

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Have you ever wondered what people might look like in the future? Photographer Mike Mike did and reveals what the face of Cologne might look like.

The concept is simple: Mike goes to a city and photographs people. He then uses morphing software to merge the photos into a single composite image - the face of the future.

You end up with a face that could be said to be representative of the future of that city."


The concept is simple: Mike goes to a city and photographs people. He then uses morphing software to merge the photos into a single composite image - the face of the future.

"You end up with a face that could be said to be representative of the future of that city."

Underground inspiration


Although Mike has photographed over 30 cities to date, the project originally began in London.

"I was sitting on the underground train and looking at all these people from all around the world and thinking: what does it mean to be a Londoner when you've got Somalis, Brazilians, Polish... you've got everything here... yet they're all here, living and working - they're all Londoners. So what is a Londoner? What if you could somehow combine these people and project into the future what a typical Londoner would look like?"

Four facial degrees of separation


According to Mike, one of the most interesting things about the project is how quickly people begin to look like their fellow citizens.

"If you take a random selection of 16 males and 16 females in one city, completely unrelated to each other, those two faces somehow resemble each other, like they're brother and sister. So you know that you've come up with something that does accurately reflect that place. It's very, very strange. And it takes so few faces for us to start to resemble each other. Even after 4 or 8 faces those averages are already starting to look like each other. There's just so little separating us it's amazing."

Why the future face of Cologne is young

Cologne is the oldest large city in Germany and with 1.85 million inhabitants it is the fourth largest city in Germany. The population is primarily German (over 90%) with the balance consisting of other European nationalities (primarily Turks, Greeks, Italians, Poles, Russians, Serbo-Croats and Spaniards). 


Although Turks made up the majority of newcomers in the 70s and 80s, more recent arrivals have been from the former communist countries of Eastern and South Eastern Europe. 

Taking pictures

"Again I'd made contact with a Colombian through the newspaper article in Bogotá and together with a Mexican friend of hers we set about on a rainy summer's day to collect our photos," 
says Mike.

"Cologne Cathedral is at the center of the city opposite the main railway station and a drawcard for tourists from all over Germany and Europe. Three foreigners with a strange request did not fit into the Germans' daily routine and it proved impossible to get any adults to participate.

"In the end we had to rely on the large number of students ­- mostly locals as well as some Spaniards and Americans - to get our faces. The younger Germans were much more curious and open, but as a result the face of Cologne is a very young one - perhaps only 16 or 17."


Mike admits that the resulting face "is typically Anglo-Saxon and quite similar to the face of the Tate Gallery in London, which in some respects is what one would expect."

 

The Face of the future/ RNW/ Expatica

Photographer: Mike Mike; Assistants: Marta Garcia, Rosaana Velasco

 

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Andreas Schaefer posted:

    on 18th April 2011, 17:23:44 - Reply

    Cologne is nowhere near 1.85 Million - That may be a correct figure for the greater Cologne area - including Bergisch Gladbach and Frechen and maybe Leverkusen. While the Cathedral is very central it is also the place with the highest tourist density - this might skew results