I wrote an article on Beauty & AR for Numéro Homme. It is german only – so here is Google Translate.
After smart phone come the smart glasses. With those we can probably soon embellish everything around us. The end of wrinkles, overweight and reality?
If Mark Zuckerberg is right, then in a few years we will be walking around the city with new glasses. They will look completely normal. As well as now. Made of metal or horn or acetate. Somewhere in the temple a mountain of miniaturized technology is stuck. Somewhere in front there will be room for a laser beam that projects things into our eyes. The world and the people around us will look different if we put any filters above everything and there is not one but many and more and more realities. But who do we really want to be in this new scenario? How do we want to look? At the moment it’s pretty stupid with such a frame on the nose. There is no shortage of so-called smart glasses. Any company that works on future technologies in the broadest sense of the word will have one or more postage types in the lab or in stores. These glasses are called Epson BT2000, Vuzix m100 or Optivent ORA-X. And that’s exactly what they look like: technical, overloaded and somehow immature.
In comparison, they simply look ridiculous, says Dieter Bohn. At the beginning of the year, the journalist from The Verge set up Vaunt, the prototype glasses of the US semiconductor manufacturer Intel. And he liked it very much. It was a pair of glasses that looked just like glasses, quite normal: no camera, no funny LCD screen, no built-in speaker and no micro. However, there is a laser beam of things unobtrusively projected into the eye as described above. At the moment, things like the way to the train station or other useful additional information. In the future, certainly more. If you look at the status quo of so-called augmented reality applications. Face Maker is a pretty simple app for the iPhone. The idea is simple. With the technical capabilities of modern smartphones that understand the environment around us, you can make face-mask with Face Maker Augmented Reality. The phone’s camera recognizes its own face, which can now be embellished with various brushes, pencils, brushes and colors. The good: If you move the face, the mask moves with you. Ideal for short funny videos. The not-so-good: At the moment I have to use a phone to see the face with the mask live. But that will change when we wear smart glasses. Because then, when my glasses recognize faces and bodies in my field of vision, they can be augmented – superimposed – as desired.
Annoying passengers in the subway? Can I fade out by putting gray areas over their bodies? All ugly? Simply put the beauty filter over it and the world and all its inhabitants look friendly. Anything photo editing apps can do – smoother, less wrinkles, more muscle, bacon – apps on smart glasses will do. Live and not really real. When everything is augmented and our classical understanding of reality continues to dissolve, who do we really want to be ourselves? How do we want to present, express and realize ourselves? A discussion that we already started years ago. There is no real life anymore, says US journalist Leigh Alexander. Last autumn she published a very clever text about the illusion of reality. The Internet has become an integral part of our lives, she writes: We use it for work, for self-realization, for entertainment, for shopping, for finding information. You could say it’s actually more real than real life if we trust Google Search more than most people in the conversation. It’s strange when we find in Google Image Search a selection of images of ourselves that we find it difficult to control. And that is precisely why Leigh Alexander simply reverses the phrase „You looked better on myspace“ that was quoted many years ago. Of course she looks better online. After all, almost exclusively self-edited images can be found online. The online presence is also used in many more places and is often more relevant than the actual body.
Leaving behind the limitations of your own human shell and recreating your own idea. Until now it has only been possible – if not carnival – in virtual space. Ever since Neal Stephenson popularized the term Avatar in 1992 in his sci-fi novel Snow Cash, digital images of us in the messaging service have been talking and dubious bitmoji copies of our self-dubbed dance through social media.
Computer gamers sometimes invest hours and days in the perfect design of the virtual self, which is sometimes located very close and sometimes very far away from the so-called real ego. A few years ago photographer Robbie Cooper published the very nice picture book Alter Ego: Avatars and their creators. And anyone who has ever seen the sad look of overweight Texas student Lucas Shaw, who spends 55 hours a week with his avatar Gaenank, a barbarian berserker in the vast world of EverQuest, gets a sense of the unconditional relevance and potential of digital imagery of the own ego. With smart glasses or contact lenses, all these and all future avatars or individualized hybrids will leave Somehow-Real Somehow-Digital the loneliness of the bedrooms. And while Snapchat is already celebrating the enrichment of the environment with digital 3D objects as New World Lenses, this New World, the new Normal, is yet to come. Augmented reality will become commonplace. And before that happens, it’s worth thinking about. Who do we want to be now?
By the beginning of 2018, my Instagram feed will suddenly be filled with selfies. First of all, not really unusual for Instagram, but this time there is next to the actual picture still another picture, a more or less well hit doppelganger is on it, classically painted, mostly in oil. The pictures are from the Google Arts and Culture app. Actually launched in 2016 to promote machine learning and artificial intelligence. Google scans faces and matches them with a database of museum images. Ultimately, Google is merely training its facial recognition software. Users may find a doppelganger of bygone times. But where does the wish come from in the past? Perhaps it springs from the yearning for connection and is the result of a deep uncertainty in the face of a permanently offensive confusion of reality. Who do we want to be? Who should we be? Who can we be?
No idea, man. If I want, I can put my face on another face with the simplest means. Making face swap and the accompanying trend of fake porn is a game of sorts. With the application Face2Face, developed at Stanford University, since last year I can put famous words in the mouth of famous people to quickly produce new fake news. And on the website Face Substitution I can superimpose my own face in real time with Brad Pitt or other celebrities with their own webcam. Everything a bit bumpy, but meanwhile already six years old.
And while we make harmless face filters to make the way to the supermarket a little more entertaining, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal photographed in early February 2018 a Chinese policewoman who scans with smart glasses passers-by and with a police database compares. Of course, there are instructions on the Internet, how to disfigure facial recognition by asymmetric makeup and a slightly disordered hairstyle. Maybe the solution is simply multiplication. Create two, three, four, many egos. Varieties for every situation. Not unlike normal social behavior, but much more diverse, crazy and confusing. Instead of clothing, hairstyle, and anything external, there’s nothing left to change the size, color, gender, or species, such as a sweater. „I’m the result of everything I’ve ever done, but I’m not the collection of all these things,“ said Snap Evan CEO Spiegel. Maybe he did not know how right he should be. Nothing will be as it seems. Even if that is not necessarily new.