Augmented footwear is a project exploring the notion of newness, through lenses of social media, fashion consumption, performing identity, DIY, and virtual reality.
The starting point for the project were conversations with my little sister, as well as my self-reflection about consuming, style and identity. What drives me to pursue new fashion items? Why are some items left deserted in the wardrobe? Where lies the boundary between old and new?
I decided to use a pair of my own sad, abandoned shoes to explore these topics. Finding ways to pursue newness, with tomorrow’s DIY methods. Combined with the idea of performing identity through a virtual copy of self on social media, sparked the idea for augmented footwear.
Old shoes are transformed to reflect values, identity, and aesthetics on the virtual reality of social media using contemporary DIY methods. The shoe is populated with Marker objects to create a bridge between physical and virtual. A similar method can be found from CGI techniques used in movie productions, to capture actors’ performance - for later enhancement. The augmented footwear can be set to show whatever content and visual appearance, to support users’ identity and presence in virtual reality.
The light-hearted, even humorous approach of the project aims to create discussion around the idea of newness, and critical reflection towards consuming fashion. Can our Social media presence be compared with actors in CGI suits? Using DIY methods to transform items solely for the virtual presence, might feel more distant than it really is.
The World of fashion and clothing appears to me as a complex soup of problems and issues, ranging from human rights to the global environmental crisis. This project revolved around contemplation of fashion consumption in today’s fast-paced, ever digitalizing world. I decided to use my friends and family as a way to investigate these topics further. Multiple discussions with my 15-year-old sister turned out to play an important role in sparking ideas and inspiration.
(conversations with my sister)
Performing identity through social virtual reality emerged as a key topic. I decided to use this as a lens for investigating the motives of fashion consumption, and the role of newly acquired items in people’s daily lives. What drives us to pursue new things? What is the actual outcome after acquiring them? When does new turn to old?
I wondered my virtual presence online. It began to show me as if it were a virtual copy of my self, present in social media, games, and other platforms - all combining into a singular digital self with a multitude of faces. This presence has grown to be a major part of my self-expression of identity for others. It almost seems like an act or performance, showcasing the key aspects of my image of self.
(Instagram feed snapshot image)
What if our online presence were literally considered as a performance? People performing their identity through aesthetics, humor, values and stories. I saw this as an interesting lens for my experimental approach to the subject. Fashion as CGI, rendered on top of a physical performance. This spiraled into an idea of a shoe, drawing inspiration from motion capture suits used in film productions. I took a mindset of a virtual eye, designing objects that would be easy for it to see, rather than visually pleasing for human one.
What if we could modify existing objects in a DIY manner? A way to create a bridge from physical to virtual. Augmented reality kit to enhance old and forgotten items. I created a prototype artefact to illustrate these ideas. Objects functioning as markers for virtual eyes to see, in order to render virtual identity on top of them.
From conversations with my 15-year-old little sister:
Do you use Social media, like TikTok or Instagram?
What kind of content do you most often come across on TikTok?
Funny dating stories, of someone explaining weird stuff that happened. TikToks focusing on LGBTQIA+ support and issues. Same with Gender diversity stuff. Cute animals of course.
What kind of content do you most often come across on Instagram?
Fashion and clothing things, cool people with an interesting style, LGBTQIA+ stuff as well. Pride posts, some TikToks also.
Would you, or have you bought some clothing/accessories thinking how they will look like in photos?
Not bought just because of that, but it comes to my mind while going shopping and browsing items.
How do you feel about that kind of mindset towards shopping
I know it’s a big deal for some people, even some of my friends. I personally think it’s a bit dumb, but it do think it a bit
Do you think it is important what people think when they see your social media profiles
Yeah I do, but I don’t think it too often, it’s still a major deal between people my age