Instafacewhatssnap (Vanity Bench), 2018

Kulturregion Stuttgart, Germany

Instafacewhatssnap (Vanity Bench) questions the construction and authenticity of identity in the media age. Social media has transformed communication, but also how we see ourselves. We share where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with, what we see, what we feel, what we think, and we do it instantly—like a permanent reflection of ourselves. But the media-reflected view of ourselves is constructed, filtered, predetermined by technology, and shaped by what generates attention. Identity is increasingly fluid and temporary. How real are our media reflections and how much congruence is there with our “true selves”?

The Instafacewhatssnap (Vanity Bench) project, a collaboration between ART+COM Studios and designer furniture company, Walter Knoll, has two corresponding elements: a small augmented sculpture and an installation. In each of the artworks viewers experience a dialogue between the physical and the virtual through an augmented reality app.

The sculpture depicts two figures sitting on a model sofa, separated by a mirror, holding mobile phones in their hands as though taking selfies via their reflection. When the sculpture is viewed through a mobile device, two dark bodies can be seen detaching themselves from the sitting figures and switching places.

The life-sized installation presents an optical illusion consisting of a sofa that seems to have had one end cut off by a large mirror but is, in fact, visually extended by the reflection.
The virtual layer of the installation takes up the optical illusion by setting a differently coloured virtual figure on each side of the mirror. As in the small sculpture, the figures hold mobile phones up to their reflections. The figures simultaneously dissolve into a stream of fragments that fly through the mirror to the other side where they coalesce into complete figures once again. And, just like in the small sculpture, the process of dissolution and coalescence is repeated over and over again.

Instafacewhatssnap (Vanity Bench) was developed, realized and exhibited at Herrenberg City Hall as part of the Drehmoment Festival. Special thanks to Daito Manabe for the motion capture data.