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Kevin hunt does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive capital from any agency or organization that would advantage from this article, and also has discover no appropriate affiliations past their scholastic appointment.

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“At the centre of that all, her eyes, your eyes …”

Many elements of the life and incredible accomplishments of David Bowie will be thought about in the weeks and months ahead following the news that his death. However the cryptic lyric over from the lead solitary on David Bowie’s new album is a reminder that the unusual appearance the his eyes to be a crucial part of the singer’s star persona.

Indeed your iconic presence features in the advertising campaign for ★. Because that many human being it is that look – that the eyes created a core part of – that will certainly be an abiding storage of Bowie.

So, why were they apparently two different colours?

Complete heterochromia is a reasonably rare problem (in humans) whereby each iris is a distinctly different colour, such as having one blue iris and also the other brown.

But this no why Bowie’s eyes looked different.

Instead, the inexplicable appearance of Bowie’s eye were due to a condition called anisocoria. Anisocoria is a condition qualified by an unequal size in a person’s pupils. In Bowie’s case, his left pupil was permanently dilated.

This can produce the illusion the having various coloured eyes since the solved pupil does not respond to changes in light, while the ideal pupil does. Therefore Bowie’s left eye often appeared to be rather dark, as result of the blackness of his dilated pupil, when contrasted to the blue of his appropriate iris.

The dilated pupil of his left eye was additionally potentially more prone come the effect of “red eye”. This sometimes adds come the illustration of a various colour when contrasted to his right eye.

Red eye occurs when light reflects off that the fundus (the earlier of the eye), v an open pupil, and also captures a red coloration by picking up tonality from the blood in the choroid lining that the eyeball.

This can plainly be checked out in the Aladdin Sane – Eyes open up photograph through Brian Duffy (shot in 1973 however unpublished till 2011) that was supplied as the lead photo on the posters because that the V&A David Bowie is (2013) exhibition.

So what happened?

Anecdotally, the reason of Bowie’s anisocoria was attributed come the autumn from a lusty scrap in the feather of 1962. Bowie had pertained to blows v a friend, George Underwood, end a girl they to be both hoping to date.

Both were just 15 in ~ the time and their friendship seemingly continued to be intact. The 2 performed together in various bands before Underwood turned indigenous music come painting and graphics. However Bowie’s left eye continued to be seriously damaged.

An impulsive punch had actually accidentally scratched the eyeball, bring about paralysis the the muscles that contract the iris. From the day, Bowie’s left pupil stayed in a fixed open up position.

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Over time, Bowie apparently thanked his friend for his notorious eye injury, telling Underwood that it provided him “a kind of mystique”. This mystique assisted fuel some of Bowie’s biggest creations and enhance above images, such as the album cover because that Heroes (1977).

His eyes could appear eerie and also mismatched, producing a captivating or mesmeric gaze indigenous on stage or with the lens the a camera. And also the uncanny figure of Bowie’s eye was right for a demonstrate who adopted ideas the the alien, the outsider, the otherworldly and the occult.

In an increasingly visual world seemingly preoccupied by perfection, Bowie’s damaged left pupil ended up being an intrinsic and also arresting part of his enigmatic identity.