The Cosmeceutical Face: Time-Fighting Technologies and the Archive

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2009 Grayson Cooke / Transformations

In this paper I wish to discuss the implications of cosmetic “anti-aging” technologies and their marketing discourses for an understanding of the human face as a kind of archive, as a repository of time and memory. I will do this in reference to the work of Bernard Stiegler and Jacques Derrida, amongst others. While neither Derrida nor Stiegler talk at any length about the face or about cosmetics, their writings on the archive, temporality, and technology as “tertiary memory,” illuminate the questions that revolve around the anti-aging industry’s relation to time and the face, in a particularly appropriate manner. With reference to these writings, I will argue that cosmetic anti-aging technologies – frequently understood and marketed as “cosmeceuticals” – constitute the face as an archive at the same time that they work to limit the functioning of the face as an archive.