Description: A screen that reflects your live, moving image, with skin imperfections automatically airbrushed out. Video below displays a screen capture from the process of the live video being airbrushed through a filter. Sporadically, the air brushing filter fails, leaving a brief hint of the actual person behind the screen.
“Identity” is subject to much debate in the real world. In the digital space, however, the construction of personal representations is almost universally acknowledged as deliberate. The actions of defining oneself – the creation, sharing, liking and retweeting of content – is entirely conscious, recorded objectively through various digital medium.
Even the action of “signing up” for a web service forces a public performance, demanding a user to choose a username (even arbitrary selections comment on a users’ personality).
By giving users almost total control over their performance of identity, the internet exposes its users to a Hobbesian race-to-the-bottom. Participants naturally wish to appear more attractive, sociality adept, wittier and happier than their real-life alter-ego. In doing so, its not unusual for other users to respond by feeling less attractive, socially inept, duller and less-happy than their counterparts, forcing a similar performance on their part.
Avatar 2.0 is an attempt to visualise the struggle of positive internet identity presentation, by capturing a users’ face (a key factor in offline identity creation) and presenting it back with reduced blemishes. Avatar 2.0 acts as a “magic mirror” for users’, but rather than distorting their form as a carnival, represents a peoples’ desire to appear better than they actually are, especially for others to see.
A further development for this project is Avatar 2.1, in which users are encouraged to cycle on a bike to power the blemish-reducing properties of the magic-mirror. By forcing the user to expend energy to retain their perfected representation – and by the perspiration of exercise negatively affecting their appearance – Avatar 2.1 comments on the exhaustion and personal cost of trying to perform a flawless digital identity.