Recognition of the human face is hard-wired into our biology. Within hours of being born, a baby is processing the changing expressions of its mother’s face. To bond. To learn to interpret feelings and actions. It is Evolution at work, trying to assure survival. And I might suggest this interest in faces is half the reason for the commercial success of the teddy-bear! The other reason being that other visual imperative of even more immediate concern: recognition of the mother’s breast. The button-nosed teddy bear is the perfect morphing together of the two images a baby most needs to recognize in order to survive. There we have it: subliminal advertising already practised on infants!
Our response to the image of the human face goes far deeper than we realize, and accounts for the power of the mask.