Greecus – Mask

For this project I thought a good deal about what a mask was and the different ways that they are used. At its core, I found, a mask can have two purposes. A mask can obscure the wearer, keeping his or her features and emotions a secret (e.g. ski masks). I began to think of these as utilitarian focused masks. A mask can also allow the wearer to embody someone’s presence or take on a persona. At first when I thought about this kind of mask I considered masks that are used in ceremonies and performances (e.g. Kabuki theater and traditional African masks) where a performer puts on the mask and loses himself or herself in someone else, but after thinking some more about it I realized that many people put on masks every day not like someone else, but rather to feel more themselves. 

After thinking about that for some time I began to draw inspiration from these different kinds of masks. I began to think about how deeply cultural masks are. The way that a culture’s masks are designed and created reflects very much on the aesthetic standards in the cultures from which it stems. Therefore It felt wrong to create a mask based on a culture to which I did not belong. That became the seed for my assignment because after I came to that realization, I began looking for a way that I could the common visual language of these different masks to create one that belonged to me.

One common aspect of the visual language that I found in masks was exaggerated features, and so I used deep reds and yellows to convey emotion while also maintaining a distance from fully understanding the emotion by not using a traditional representation of a face on the mask.

In my mask, I used a design showing a QR code as the most prominent element because I liked how it alluded to this idea that in our data-driven culture a computer-readable symbol linking to my social media could be just as representative of my identity as my face is.

For the project I used Kyle McDonald’s FaceOSC implementation and Processing.