Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Revisiting the Afghan Girl


This is off-topic for the blog, but it’s just so beautiful, interesting and relevant that I couldn’t help but post about it. You may recognize the photo above, as it’s one of the most famous and celebrated photographs in recent times, captured by Steve McCurry in June 1984. The Afghan Girl was only identified almost twenty years later and photographed again as Sharbat Gula, already a 30 year-old woman.

Only thing is, this is not just a retouched version of the original photograph, it’s a recreation done with computer graphics. Artist Hyun Kyung Up used Z-Brush, 3D Max and Photoshop to “express [McCurry’s] exquisite pieces of art work”.

Below, screenshots from the modelling process:


This recreation is beautiful, but I especially admired the partial frontal view of her face. As it turns out, Sharbat Gula was only photographed three times in her life: first by McCurry in 1984, and then in 2002 two times, as part of the search for her and then finally, the third photo again by McCurry. She only saw her famous portrait in 2003.

Hyun Kyung Up may have recreated another view of a youthful and haunting beauty that was forever lost.

26 years later so much have changed, and yet, so little. In the west, where a piercing beauty called attention for the plight of refugees during Soviet occupation, now another magazine has published a shocking cover portrait of another pretty young woman, but horribly disfigured. The intended message was very different.

This is not a political blog and I will not defend any simplistic position on such complex issues. I just had to share this fascinating reinterpretation of beauty with the aid of technology, and couldn’t help but mention some of the many thoughts that this art may inspire.

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[Suggested by Paulo Dias on Ciencialist. Also discussed on ZBrushCentral]

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Atom McCree, steorfan. steorfan said: Revisiting the Afghan Girl http://dlvr.it/3X4S3 […]

  2. uarespineless February 20th, 2013 6:46 am

    I will not defend any simplistic position… translation: I will buy any government sponsored bullcrap the media shoves down my throat, or I am too afraid to speak out what every moron knows intuitively, the fact that the disfigured person has come to realize some things that are pretty simple, and pretty wretched.

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