Facelab

Face Lab

ART LABS

Learn more about Face Lab

Face Lab is an interdisciplinary research group focusing on facial depiction and representation, at the interface of art and science

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Face Lab, directed by Professor Caroline Wilkinson, is a research group that carries out forensic/archaeological research and consultancy work, including craniofacial analysis, facial depiction and forensic art. 

From skeletal remains, death masks and portraits, we analyse, authenticate and/or depict the faces of key historical figures. This work has directly influenced current research into digital human representation, especially in relation to the creation of 3D facial avatars and facial recognition. 

Face Lab’s research includes: 

  • the further development of a 3D computerised craniofacial depiction system, utilising existing 3D modelling software and haptic technology 
  • the development of a database of anatomical structures and facial features 
  • the use of cutting edge technology in facial depiction, animation and recognition

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Research areas:

Faces are central to our human identity, self-perception and our perception of others. Faces are also used as biometric technologies for legal identification. Researching facial appearance and presentation therefore has social, cultural, scientific and forensic relevance. Representing faces from the past provides an opportunity to connect with historical figures both known and unknown, as individuals rather than concepts. As scientific methods and visualisation techniques develop, these representations become more nuanced, presenting new knowledge about past populations, and in turn, how this knowledge is shaped by visual representations. It is through visual representations of the face that we are able to study perception, cognitive bias, population diversity, social status, and the ethics and practices of post-mortem representation and display, as well as develop knowledge that can be applied to forensic contexts.

Facial appearance and cognitive bias

Representing and displaying the dead

Facial appearance and population demographics

Facial appearance and status

Archaeological casework

Forensic identification

Professor Wilkinson has an international reputation and contributes to international policy, cultural enrichment and expert training. She has collaborated frequently with museums, the media and other organisations, including the National Museum of Scotland, National Museum of Ireland, Museum of London, Egyptian Museum of Cairo, FBI Academy, Interpol, Moesgaard Museum, Manchester Museum and the Fraunhofer Institute.

Face Lab collaborates with internationally renowned artists and has previously worked with Turner Prize nominees Jane and Louise Wilson on Undead Sun: We Put the World Before You and Gina Czarnecki on Heirloom.

Awards

Educate North Award. (2019) Research Team of the Year 

Heritage Project Award  (2018) for Exercise MAGWICH, Ministry of Defence Sanctuary Awards, presented to Operation Nightingale (DIO) and Face Lab (LJMU), Ministry of Defence. 

Silver Otter Award  (2018) for Exercise MAGWICH, Ministry of Defence Sanctuary Awards, presented to Operation Nightingale (DIO) and Face Lab (LJMU), Ministry of Defence. 

Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Award (2016) for Excellence in Social and Economic Engagement - Presented to Professor Caroline Wilkinson and the Face Lab team, Liverpool John Moores University 

Vice-Chancellor's Award for Knowledge Transfer and Social and Economic Engagement: Highly Commended - Presented to Mark Roughley,  Liverpool John Moores University

Highlighted publications

Wilkinson, C. M., Mackenzie, S, and Smith, K. 2019. Faces of Merseyside: Exploring cognitive bias through facial averages. Leonardo> DOI

Wilkinson C, Roughley M, Moffat R, Monckton D, MacGregor M. 2019. In Search of Robert Bruce, Part I: Craniofacial Analysis of the Skull excavated at Dunfermline in 1819 Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 24 :556-564 >DOI

Miranda GE, Wilkinson CM, Roughley M, Beaini TL, Melani RFH. 2018. Assessment of accuracy and recognition of three-dimensional computerized forensic craniofacial reconstruction PLoS ONE, 13 >DOI

Houlton TMR, Wilkinson C. 2018. Facial preservation following extreme mummification: Shrunken heads Forensic Science International, 286 :31-41 >DOI 

Lopez-Capp TT, Rynn C, Wilkinson CM, Saavedra de Paiva LA, Michel-Crosato E, Biazevic MGH. 2018. Craniometric variation among Brazilian and Scottish populations: a physical anthropology approach Brazilian Journal of Oral Sciences, 17 >DOI

Campomanes-Alvarez C, Ibáñez O, Cordón O, Wilkinson C. 2018. Hierarchical information fusion for decision making in craniofacial superimposition Information Fusion, 39 :25-40 >DOI

Bulut O, Liu C-YJ, Koca F, Wilkinson C. 2017. Comparison of three-dimensional facial morphology between upright and supine positions employing three-dimensional scanner from live subjects LEGAL MEDICINE, 27 :32-37 >DOI 

Wilkinson CM, Suppersberger SH, Ersland GA, Daux V, Parson W. 2017. Three individuals, three stories, three burials from medieval Trondheim, Norway PLoS ONE, 12 >DOI

Shrimpton SL, Fodarella C. 2017. Facial Composites Baker B, Minhas R, Wilson L. Factbook: Psychology and Law European Association of Psychology and Law Student Society 9781326989651

Roughley M, Wilkinson C. 2019 The affordances of 3D and 4D digital technologies for computerized facial depiction Rea P. Biomedical Visualisation 2 Springer 978-3-030-14227-8


Book chapters in “Approaching Facial Difference: Past and Present”

Wilkinson CM. 2018. Archaeological Facial Depiction for People from the Past with Facial Differences Skinner P, Cock E. Approaching Facial Difference Past and Present Bloomsbury Publishing 9781350028296

‘Smith, K. Portraits? Likenesses? Composites? Facial Difference in Forensic Art.’ In Skinner, P. and Cock, E. (eds) 2018. Approaching Facial Difference Past and Present. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 84-111

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Contact details:

Get in touch with researchers from Face Lab

If you’d like to ask a question or find out more information, please contact the team using the details below.

Contact: facelab@ljmu.ac.uk

Address:

Face Lab
IC1 Liverpool Science Park
131 Mount Pleasant
Liverpool
L3 5TF