Pretty UglyOn the odd hierarchy of imperfections.

Pretty UglyOn the odd hierarchy of imperfections.

In the 1970s, the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori introduced the concept of the “uncanny valley.” The valley effect occurs, he believed, when an artificial form is almost—but not quite—authentic enough to feel like the reality it is emulating. People experience an unpleasant disconnect when viewing such objects, and they become fearful and repelled. Technical perfection adds to, rather than subtracts from, the feeling; a perfect robotic face can leave the viewer disquieted and nauseated. Imperfections are sometimes added to mitigate the effect.

In real life, imperfections may be what we prize most dearly in those we find beautiful. They are not merely tolerated as necessary but celebrated and fantasized about in themselves. Flaws give us a chink through which to view great be...

The full version of this story is only available for subscribers

Want to enjoy full access? Subscribe Now

Subscribe Discover unlimited access to Kinfolk

  • Four print issues of Kinfolk magazine per year, delivered to your door, with twelve-months’ access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

  • Receive twelve-months of all access to the entire Kinfolk.com archive and all web exclusives.

Learn More

Already a Subscriber? Login

Your cart is empty

Your Cart (0)