Folks, let me tell you: living in Berlin comes with perks galore, especially on the artistic side. For five months, I’ve lived here to study and to commemorate Augmania’s launch in Germany. And as my wonderful stay nears its end, I must say I’m enthralled by the art scene in Berlin. Simply put, art is unavoidable in Die Hauptstadt. What’s cooler, interacting with artists and getting to know their backstories have been highly inspiring. All in all, I loved being in Berlin because it’s a city that bolsters self-expression.
Yet, occasionally, I did come across artworks like this:
Specifically, this one I pass by every day on my walk back home. And while pedestrians usually deem it funny and cute, it always makes me ponder its message. Forgive my old-schoolness, but I’ve always believed that art is at its most successful when people do interpret it. Hopefully, for the artist’s sake, these interpretations are close to his/her intended message. To me, that is true self-expression.
Anyway, my interpretation of the artwork above is a bit dark. From the first time I saw it, the grizzly bear represented the (nearing endangerment?) species known as introverts. And the artwork a whole pictured introverts’ struggles with self-expression in today’s world. Despite its proven capability as a hunter, the grizzly decides to lie on its couch and stay the night. That’s eerily analogous to introverts avoiding self-expression against their creative competence.
What rattled me the most was the realization that even in Berlin, some, possibly including said artist himself, struggle with self-expression. It’s sad to think that there are still plenty of creative ideas and stories that haven’t seen the light.
Of course, the main culprit here is none other than fear of judgment.
Essentially, the cliche of all of us living under microscopes couldn’t be truer. In some way, we’re all connected nonstop to the public eye and expected to behave in a certain manner. For some (i.e. extroverts), they shine under that pressure. Contrarily, introverts might end up hiding their true selves in fear of not fitting in and the subsequent cynicism.
However, I, personally, am of the notion that introverts can never really shut off their desire for self-expression. How else could an introverted artist create the reflective grizzly bear artwork above?
So, it’s my belief that introverts do self-express, but they do it subtly. One of the qualities leading researcher of introversion and bestselling author Susan Cain assigns introverts is indeed subtlety.
In most cases, subtlety is a way of self-protection to them. They do tell their stories, but in a subtlety that ensures they don’t fall into wrong (and judgmental) hands. To get access to their stories, you have to unravel that subtlety. In other words, you have to commit and spend effort to gain their trust. You have to leap into different realms of thought to witness the fruits of their self-expression.
In hindsight, that sounds like a pretty efficient strategy for safe self-expression. But, what if I tell you there is a much less complicated way to reach the same effect?
Introverts of the world, allow me to elaborate on the powers of Augmented Reality in self-expression.
If a show of commitment is what introverts require before letting others in, then AR could be just the answer. With AR, people literally traverse to a different reality to explore and unlock content.
Then, in essence, an introvert could create any form of self-expression and then add an AR layer to it. It would be almost like showing everyone the tip of the iceberg. But in order to see the iceberg in all its glory, people dip into the water aka use AR. Except, in this case, only those who feel a connection to the work of self-expression would be stimulated enough to know the full story.
Actually, I think there’s no better way to take this discussion further than by providing examples. So here are some AR tools introverts could use for self-expression.
1- Augmented Graffiti
So it’s only right that we start with the form of self-expression that triggered all this: graffiti. Graffiti is a universal language of self-expression. Artists have used it in every situation there is, including during revolutions. Of course, that’s because of the easy exposure, being on the streets for everyone to see. Cities like Berlin even encourage graffiti. Look no further than all the masterpieces over the Berlin wall.
Now, let’s go back to the graffiti of the grizzly on the couch. Imagine if the full story behind the artwork was accessible via AR. The graffiti could trigger another series of artworks, a music track, or even a short movie in AR. To unlock the AR content, pedestrians would only have to scan the graffiti with their phones.
You know what would be extra awesome too? That would be if the graffiti artist actually updated his/her artwork with new AR content every week. We’re talking a never-before-seen platform for long-term storytelling here. Personally, that would be an epic reward for me as I pass by the graffiti every week.
2- Augmented Tattoos
Tattoos are among the oldest tools for self-expression ever. Originally, some tattooed because they believed tattoos had therapeutic effects. Today, people get tattoos for emotional health. It doesn’t matter if the tattoo honors a passed loved one or celebrates a special day. Many love telling others their stories through the tattoos on their bodies.
With extroverts, their tattoos are usually big, loud, and self-explanatory. On the other hand, introverts get, again, subtle tattoos. That’s the aforementioned tip of the iceberg in the context of tattoos. As such, introvert tattoos only hint at what their possible meanings could be.
Like with graffiti, tattoos too could get the AR treatment to become augmented tools of self-expression. That would be an innovative form of AR print to expand the stories behind tattoos.
Here’s an example of a tattoo coming to life in AR:
3- AR Filters
Quite easily, AR filters might be the most popular AR tools. Brands use them for promotion all the time. Even, Taco Bell is famous for getting 224 million attractions with its Taco AR filter. But in this blogpost, we’re going to focus more on user-generated AR filters and their influence as self-expression tools.
Since not everyone can afford the trip to Paris for social engagement, social media users, especially millennials and Gen Z individuals, have taken to AR filters to gain a following. Also, it’s now easier than ever to create custom AR filters using Spark AR Studio.
Last year, Instagram user Johanna Jaskowska created her super viral filter Beauty3000. The filter turned users’ faces glossy, metallic, and fitting of a dystopian world. As of now, the filter has had over 400 million views.
The potential of AR filters use as a means of self-expression has even led to new stunning inventions. In a dazzling display of technology, Russian teen Mikhail Murtazin created an AR filter based on Flappy Birds. What’s so impressive? Well, you play the game by blinking!
Called Flying Face, the gamified AR filter has amassed 1 billion views. And rightfully so! But what it really demonstrates is how far AR and an urge for self-expression can go together.