When a dead body is found unrecognizable, whether due to obliteration of soft tissue or the damage caused by the passage of time, a team of forensic artists is called in to create an artistic reconstruction of the deceased's visage. These artists use the victim's skull, along with fiberglass, clay and intuition, to mold an approximate likeness of the deceased. Photos of these facial reconstructions are then publicized with the hopes of identifying the anonymous victims.
Photographer Arne Svenson took interest in this strange artistic ritual, described by Stacy Dacheux as "a mask or doll with a troubling echo, seemingly touched by the hands of Frankenstein." Svenson began photographing the death masks, giving the forensic tools the same artistic attention as a living, breathing subject. Before Svenson's lens, the facial reconstructions gain a strange life force, taking on the unsettling presence of a haunted marionette. The series, entitled "Unspeaking Likeness," gives an unflinching glimpse of lives cut short and the unspoken mysteries that may never be solved.
Svenson explained his darkly fascinating project further in an email to the Huffington Post:
"With this series, 'Unspeaking Likeness,' I am striving to turn the clay and plastic of these reconstructions into photographs of living, breathing beings. My intent is to create images, using traditional photographic techniques and equipment, that will allow the viewer to see past the artificiality of the sculpture and look directly into the eyes of the person this construction represents. As they stare out from these photographs, two questions must be asked for them: 'Who am I?' and 'Who killed me?'
Check out Svenson's haunting project below and let us now your thoughts in the comments.