"One face with tow sexes"? - Versuch, die Erkenntnisse aus einem psychophysikalischen Experiment zu deuten


  • Christiane König




One Face with Two Sexes?: Attempting to Analyze the Insights of a Psychophysical Experiment

This article analyzes some very specific processes of knowledge and evidence production in the field of human psychophysics concerning the question of whether gender is a category of human visual perception, specifically of face recognition. Methodologically speaking, the article conducts a discursive analysis on a micro-political level and addresses the question of how the experiment itself and the form of knowledge behind it, together with the media devices employed, produce some kind of truth or evidence about gender as it is represented in the form of text, diagrams, and pictures. This kind of scientific “truth” was published in, Vision, one of the field’s preeminent scientific journals, in 2005. The media technique used in the experiment is a morphing procedure based on complicated statistical-mathematical calculations and elaborated algorithms. In terms of effect on the level of image production, the medium primarily erased all differences between two categories of sex, which were extracted from “reality” and then digitalized, but also an a priori presumption on the part of the experimenters. The following article shows how the morphing procedure destabilizes this presumption on an epistemological level; how the process of presenting the images to the subjects in a static, photographic manner seeks to regulate this destabilization; and how, finally, the presumption is – as experimental solution – at the risk of being unverifiable, but for this very reason has to be rationalized and reestablished in order to keep sexual difference intelligible in the form of two categories of sex.