Androgyny (6 Men + 6 Women)

Photograph by Nancy Burson

I really was, in a certain way, more interested in showing people what they could not see rather than what they could see.

Nancy Burson

Androgyny (6 Men + 6 Women)

  • Nancy Burson
  • 1982

Photography is a perfect medium for recording the past. But until Nancy Burson’s Androgyny, it was useless for predicting the future. Two decades before the shape-shifting enabled by digital photography became ubiquitous, Burson worked with MIT scientists to develop technology that let her craft this composite image of the faces of six men and six women. The effect was revolutionary. Photographs could suddenly be used to project how someone would look, not just how they once did. Burson’s composite work led her to develop pioneering software that could digitally age faces—the first time these images could be based on more than guesses. The Federal Bureau of Investigation acquired Burson’s software to create present-day images of people who had gone missing years earlier, and it has been used to locate numerous missing persons.

See how Nancy Burson's technology was used in the case of Etan Patz's disappearance

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