Are human skulls beautiful? David Orr uses mirrors to find their symmetry

Los Angeles-based photographer David Orr’s subject matter might be a bit macabre but his pictures explore cultural ideals of perfection and symmetry.

According to a study called Symmetry and Human Facial Attractiveness, people with symmetrical faces will earn more, are more likely to be chosen as sexual partners, and are considered to be more trustworthy. This is due to the idea of symmetry as an indicator of good health. But our faces vary and no two faces are completely identical in shape. To explore these ideas, Los Angeles-based photographer David Orr has been photographing skulls in the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, then mirroring half of the image, with all of the skull’s faults in a project called Perfect Vessels.

“I was told that if a physician can see asymmetry from ‘the end of the bed’ then the patient is in the weeds. Well, all the skulls in this museum belonged to people who had rare medical conditions or died early, so you can imagine,” he was quoted as saying.

The Perfect Vessels exhibition has been on display at the Mütter Museum since 14 July.