‘FaceAge’ exhibit asks questions about aging

“FaceAge” volunteers were filmed discussing their perspectives on aging.
“FaceAge” volunteers were filmed discussing their perspectives on aging. Photos provided

Before “FaceAge” heads out on tour next year, visitors can view the video exhibit and explore aging at the HUB-Robeson Center through Dec. 9.

The Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, under the direction of professor Andrew Belser, developed the video exhibit “FaceAge.” The project can be found at the HUB-Robeson Center through Dec. 9.

“FaceAge” is an hour-long film that plays on a continuous loop — viewers can start watching at any point and it will make sense. In the film, young volunteers (18-22 years old) were matched with volunteers 70 years or older. They were asked to talk about their experiences and assumptions about aging. Participants of the study were also given the chance to study each other’s face through touch.

“The project is aimed at looking at breaking down some assumptions and if we can change people’s perspective of aging,” said Belser, who is the director of the Arts and Design incubator at Penn State, a workspace for students to develop cross-disciplinary installations and gain national recognition for seed funding.

Belser said his first time working on a project like “FaceAge” was at the University of North Carolina. There, while using software that estimates how a person’s face might change over the years, he began to wonder when people get a real chance to study aging.

“I was hoping for an emphasis on humanity,” he said. “A lot of storytelling happens in just looking at each other’s faces and describing our fears about aging.”

Once at Penn State, Belser began to create his first prototype of the installation. His first working prototype was developed at the Arts and Research Design Incubator with help from the College of Arts and Architecture, the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Nursing.

Amy Lorek, director of community engagement for “FaceAge” and a Penn State research associate at the Center for Healthy Aging, said both she and the college of Health and Human Development welcomed the idea of intergenerational exchange.

“We believe that there’s a lot each generation has to offer to each other, but not so much opportunity to interact with each other. It is a film that may invoke a lot of personal memories,” Lorek said.

The “FaceAge” team is finalizing a national tour set to start early next year. Belser said that several prestigious museums have sought an opportunity to show the exhibit, but developers think the project’s impact might be better developed in a setting of primarily young adults.

“It’s really about experiencing the project and to open themselves to what’s on the screens,” Belser said.

“FaceAge” is also a primary component of a study by the college of Health and Human Development. The study involves collecting and analyzing data on how “FaceAge” affects people’s perspectives of aging. So far, the team has only been able to collect pilot data, hope that through the public showings, they will be able to collect enough data for the study.


  • What: “FaceAge” video exhibit
  • When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays through Dec. 9
  • Where: HUB-Robeson Center, University Park
  • Info: www.faceage.org