During the Renaissance, artists turned from the profile to the three-quarters view of the face — a position that allows the viewer a more intimate and personal engagement with the sitter. The change was prompted by an increased focus on the individual, and the emergence of that sense of personhood and agency was embodied in the rise of the portrait.

We might see the Mona Lisa as the apotheosis of that moment and we might go to the Louvre and observe a sea of elevated phones attempting to capture the image of the world’s most reproduced portrait. Just as those visitors are attempting to own a piece of it on their phones, our faces are being captured and co-opted...

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