In How We See, a thoughtful series from photographer Laurie Simmons, beautiful models appear to gaze out at the world through realistic eyes that have been drawn on their closed lids with expertly applied makeup. The photos are a comment upon self-expression through social media and the recent trends in which women (and men) who attempt, through various methods, to make themselves look like wide-eyed dolls.
The new works in Laurie Simmons: How We See draw upon the “Doll Girls” subculture, women who alter themselves to look like Barbie, baby dolls, and Japanese Anime characters through make-up, dress, and even cosmetic surgery. Simmons’ images call to mind high school portraits, featuring fashion models posed in front of a curtained backdrop, cropped from the shoulders up. Prismatic lighting and small, surprising details in the models’ clothing lends these otherwise banal images a psychedelic effect, which is exaggerated by each girl’s preternaturally large, sparkling eyes. They stare out at the viewer with an uncanny, alien gaze, created by lavishly painting eyes onto the models’ closed eyelids—a technique drawn from the “Doll Girls” community.