Full Moon Mask

 

 

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Full Moon Mask

Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment. They are usually worn on the face, although they may also be positioned for effect elsewhere on the wearer’s body. Masks are  crucial elements of different cultures and traditions. Performative masks  always seem to create an illusion and distance between the viewer and performer. My goal was to design a “connecting mask” which would react to both kinds of  interaction: personal and coming from the audience. This mask  allows the viewer to be a part of performance and feel the outcome, while the performer will experience total connection with the audience. 

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Project Context:

Magnhild Kennedy (Demselfrau)

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https://www.damselfrau.com/gallery

“No designing and no overthinking. I just sculpt. Most of it happens in the actual sewing and making.” 

“Texture and colour is important. Just ‘tasting’ and finding the tone and sculpting until it feels right. I’m inspired by people’s homes and how they live with their objects around them. I often feel like I’m decorating a space, more than making a mask.”  Demselfrau

Magnhild Kennedy is a Norwegian artist.  After moving to London in her 20’s she was introduced to London night like. First masks were parts of party outfits.  This vive of freedom, creativity and fun can be noticed in her masks.  Working in vintage stores provided the artist with various shiny and bright materials. The chaotic and bright game of materials and colours really appeals to me. Even though, I did some sketching before starting working, improvisation was a big part of my project. My work also depends mostly on materials I have and then I start playing with imagination.

When I watch at her works, I experience very light and happy emotions, and that was my main intention for my project, as well. During pandemic, masks are an obligation, filter you have to put on to go out. I wanted my mask to be a source of joy and happiness.

Performative Masks in different cultures

“Masks have been used almost universally to represent characters in theatrical performances. Theatrical performances are a visual literature of a transient, momentary kind. It is most impressive because it can be seen as a reality; it expends itself by its very revelation. The mask participates as a more enduring element, since its form is physical.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

“The stylistic concepts of Cubism and Surrealism, for example, are apparent in the masks executed for a 1957 production of La favola del figlio cambiato (The Fable of the Transformed Son) by Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936). A well-known mid-20th-century play using masks was Les Nègres(1958; The Blacks) by French writer Jean Genet. The mask, however, unquestionably lost its importance as a theatrical convention in the 20th century, and its appearance in contemporary Western plays is unusual.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

My opinion, is that masks recently have become parts of our lives. We call them filters and every post on social media is a sort of performance. Masks(filters) in Instagram, Snapchat and other social networks attract many users, their followers and reactions. Therefore, based on the traditional masks of different cultures and mass pop culture of filters I decided to crate a Full Moon mask. My mask is a combination of traditions and digital elements. The face of my mask is based on images of sun, moon and floral elements. I would day my mask is closer to traditional pagan masks, which symbolize connection with sun and nature ( because of the colours of the tulle and round shape, I called my mask Full Moon).

James Merry and his works for Bjork

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James Merry is a hand embroidery artist who is famous for his masks for Bjork’s album Utopia.

“One of Björk’s early visual references for that album was embroidery, like small stubborn Icelandic plants stitching together an open wound. I got really excited by that and started making small pieces of needlework for her to wear as we prepared the first music videos. I think some of the first things I made were some stockings embroidered with an Icelandic plant called blóðberg for the Black Lake video, and an embroidered latex headpiece for her birthday present that ended up in the Family moving album cover.” James Merry

His works are very detailed and complicated. They remind me more of live organisms. His masks are nor only material decoration for Bjork’s performance, but they rule the aesthetics of her last album. Utopia is something mysterious, prefect and alien.

Comparing to Damselfrau, Merry’s works are more thoughtful and fragile. He uses less materials, but there are big ideas behind his masks, the same with Bjork’s songs.  Looking at his works and Utopia videos, I got inspired to use little LillyPad LEDs, as they look like a magic powder from Utopia clips.

Parts, Materials, Technical Assets

  • Adafruit CPX
  •  1 servo motor
  • 3  Lilypad LEDs (white)
  • purple tulle
  • threads
  • transparent plastic (moving part)
  • beads
  • conductive thread
  • fishing line

Circuit

circuit

Code: https://github.com/MariaShirokova/Final-Project-for-Wearavles-Interactive-mask

Process:

Sketcing

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Prototyping

  1. Cardboard: first, I started with the cardboard base for mask, as I thought to put tulle on it. Cardboard helped me to figure out future location for servos and eye moving mechanism.

 

2. Then, I came up with the idea of using embroidery hoop as a base for the mask. It also fit my initial idea of a round shape. However, when I get access to 3D printer, I want to try different shapes ( less round). I glued a part of eye moving mechanism to the hoop and tested my mechanism on it.

3. Bead weaving and Embroidery . After I made sure, my servo is working and is able to lift eyes, I started deigning embroideries and beads schemes. I downloaded an app BeadTool which transfers drawings into bead circuits and used it for eyes’ bead scheme

 

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Embroidery is very close to drawing, so I reproduced my sketches using orange and yellow colours.

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After I finished with the embroidery ornaments, I started implementing lights – output for a second type of interaction – coming from a person who wears this mask. My idea was to affect leds with capacitive touch, so interaction would look very delicate and transparent. I sewed leds using conductive thread. In the beginning, I sketched a mouth made of leds in a circle. But, in reality 9 leds looked too bright and made other parts of the mask unnoticeable.

img_2749Therefore, I removed these leds  and shorten number to 3 leds on different parts of the face: on right/left cheeks  and I the middle forehead where  embroidery could diffuse the light and decreased the brightness.

img_2770Another idea was to use pompoms on top of the mask and cover the yellow mechanism circle with them (all my sketches included pompom bubbles on top) . But in the end, I decided that there already too many things going on the face. The only problem I wanted to solve with pompoms is to make composition less symmetrical and to connect two parts of the mask with one bright shape – pompoms. This is what is left for a next step of this project. When I make a different shape for the base ( not a circle)  I will be able to include more circle shapes into this composition.

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In the end I was a bit tired of circles and I wanted mask too look less round, so I made long eyelashes/eyebrows/cheeks/hands. They are also can be used to cover the bright light of LEDs.

Although, I tried to sketch face details before I started prototyping, in the end I realized that this mask does not have to repeat human face symmetry and decided to deconstruct the face and play with parts’ locations.   I came up with 4 modes with removing and changing eyes’ positions using double sided tape. This face constructor allows me to easily adapt the mask to different bases or even using some parts separately. For instance, a piece of tulle with eyes can be an independent mask.

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Wearability Assessment

  • Simplicity. Refers to the ease of use, intuitiveness and affordance of the device. Details can be removed or moved to other parts of the mask ( eyes, eyelashes)
  • User friendliness. Respects the mental model of the end user, proposing options that facilitate the interaction, in an easy and intuitive approach. (Allows performer to move, act and see). 
  •  Wearability. Considers the physical shape of objects and their active relationship with the human form (Minimum of wires, as it is worn on the head). I was trying to use mostly conductive threads for connections, but I had to use alligator clips for the servo. They are located in the bottom, so the user can still see. 

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  • Skeleton which keeps mask solid – I used embroidery hoop, which is a base for all the elements. 

References:

“A B O U T.” Jtmerry, www.jtmerry.com/about.
“Damselfrau: The Bewitching Artistry of Magnhild Kennedy’s Mask Making.” Yatzer, 8 Sept. 2019, www.yatzer.com/damselfrau-magnhild-kennedy.
Stefan, et al. “10 Incredible Cultural Masks From Around the World.” Blog | Western Union, 29 Nov. 2018, www.westernunion.com/blog/cultural-masks-of-the-world/.
Thomson, Jeffrey. “Why James T Merry, Co-Creative Director for Björk, Says Being an Oxford Graduate Was a Detour.” LOVE, LOVE, 15 Jan. 2020, www.thelovemagazine.co.uk/article/why-james-t-merry-co-creative-director-for-bjork-says-being-an-oxford-graduate-was-a-detour.
Wingert, Paul S. “Funerary and Commemorative Uses.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 Feb. 2020, www.britannica.com/art/mask-face-covering/Funerary-and-commemorative-uses.

 

 

 

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