In the aftermath of the First World War, for both Paris and London, the burial of an Unknown Soldier embodied the memory of all deceased soldiers. Anonymity guaranteed everyone’s heroism and allowed families to grieve.
To mark the Centenary of the Armistice, the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne, in association with FF (formerly Fred & Farid), is bringing to life a collaborative digital project entitled “Le Visage Inconnu” (The Unknown Face).
Regardless of their nationalities or origins, millions of human beings involved in the conflict, both men and women were victims of the horrors of the First World War. In memory of the lives shattered by war, tens of thousands of portraits were collected over several months and overlaid using an algorithm, to make up one unique face: “The Unknown Face”, human, universal.
This portrait was unveiled on November 11 at the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne, for the centenary of the Armistice, in the form of a digital work of art. Visitors will be able to browse through the tens of thousands of faces that constitute it.
As of November 8, to extend the experience and share the message of peace that it embodies with the general public, a dedicated interactive platform will allow you to discover “The Unknown Face” and some of the destinies of the men and women who marked the history of the Great War.
The site aims to consolidate collective and individual memory contributions. It will be continuously updated with new portraits, modifying, following the morphing technique, The Unknown Face. The experience will also be extended to a dedicated Instagram account to discover faces, story formats and videos on Facebook.
100 years after the Armistice, “The Unknown Face” reveals a portrait that symbolises peace, a synthesis of faces that are now unknown, but were at the time very intimate. This project, approved by the Centenary Mission, is inscribed as a part of the process of remembering, understanding and hope. It carries a universal message of peace with the synthesis of a multitude of faces, of lives carried away in the whirlwind of the Great War.
Nearly 10 months of work were necessary to bring this ambitious project to life, combining technology and the duty of memory in the service of peace. The algorithm specially developed for the purpose of creating faithful face synthesis will allow this face to evolve over time according to the portraits that will continue to be collected from the archives.