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Have you ever seen the image of a face in a seemingly random set of objects or an unexpected place? This phenomenon is known as pareidolia, it’s the perception of a familiar pattern when none exists in reality. No one really knows why we see these faces, but many theorize that it results from a common cognitive mistake that we are prone to make: we over-interpret objects in our environment as human-like. For some of us, this could be because that’s just how our brains work, and for others it could be because something is motivating us to seek out human emotions or experiences.

Swipe through to see a selection of “faces” I have photographed around Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline. Seeing these in my environment is comforting; it’s like having a friend waiting for me to walk by them on the street. But, it has also become a game, and a way for me to study objects in my environment.

Contributed by Ian Hill, a fifth year graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard University, and our Featured Artist for January and February, 2018. To meet Ian and see more of his art, click here.

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