From Snapchat and Instagram, to Twitter and Periscope, we’re constantly sharing cherrypicked, digitized pieces of our lives with the world. This trend lies at the heart of artist and visual performer Bill Shannon‘s latest project: a wearable, projection-mapped mask that turns its user into a low-fi, cyberpunk jumble of face bits (among other things). I haven’t wanted to wear a mask this much since the extreme hummingbird feeder.
A blend of high and low tech, the mask uses two sixth-gen iPod Touches running the VideoBomber mobile app, a pair of MicroVision SHOWWX Projectors, and a portable bluetooth Speaker to run its program.
“While I’m better known as a dancer and skater on crutches, I’m a maker with a very hands-on approach,” says Shannon. “This is the smaller, wearable iteration of a series of video installation works I have been developing over the past few years. It’s inspired, in part, by cubist paintings. But it’s also a metaphor. It’s impossible to show your whole self through electronic media, so this is [my version] of the face we put in front of our face. A lot of the world actually only knows us this way.”
Though he initially planned to live-map content on the spot, the added tech required would have both weighed down and tethered the mask, so Shannon quickly scrapped the idea. “I realized there was no way, so we went to pre-recorded content of me changing my expression across the spectrum from amazed, to loving, to hating etc. etc.” The rigging itself is a combination of aluminum, steel, and acrylic mirror.
Since the completion of the project, Shannon has been working to fine-tune the design, and is thinking about open-sourcing it so others can 3D-printed one at home, and do, well, whatever they want with it. (Darth Maul tats, anyone?). The possibilities are virtually endless.
IMAGES: Bill Shannon