A screen capture of video from the "Avatar" installation by Jack R@cliffe.
“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.
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