In the first chapter of Graphesis, Drucker discusses the idea of extracting information from a physical form, such as a person’s face, and analyzing it through graphic representation. This practice, referred to as physiognomy, essentially reads and predicts human personality traits based off of a person's facial features.

Giambattista Della Porta - De Humana physiognomonia
  • In 1585, Italian physiognomist, Giambattista della Porta, studied the connections between human and animal facial characteristics to ultimately make value judgements about people’s character and personality.
  • For example, if a human had a broad nose that resembled one of a chimpanzee, della Porta assumed that this person was intelligent, simply because chimpanzee’s were an intelligent species.
  • As a result, many of the facial features were over exaggerated in their graphic representations in order to exemplify and prove a specific characteristic.
  • Despite the fact that della Porta’s deduction is deeply flawed and highly based on interpretation, his work can be seen as the very first form of caricature art.

Alphonse Bertillon -
  • French forensic investigator, Alphonse Bertillon, built on the ideas of della Porta and used physiognology within the prison system to analyze the personalities and characteristics of criminals.
  • By gathering and analyzing hundreds of photos of criminals faces, Bertillon created a “system of criminal identification”.
  • These photos can be seen as early forms of mug shots and were later made obsolete by the introduction of fingerprints to track and identify prisoners.
  • Through closely measuring the faces of criminals, Bertillon used this information to identify specific people who had committed crimes in the past and who he believed were repeat offenders.
  • This process soon became extremely problematic and racist as demonstrated by Cesare Lombroso who believed that he could identify criminals in a crowd of people solely based on their facial features.


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