Unmasking Emotions in the Era of Masks

We lived behind masks for over a year. Basic casual human interactions were lost. We were not only socially distanced in the physical world, but also in the psychological. Masks made us feel isolated and alienated. I wanted to de-mask the mask. I pursued a 100 days of face masks challenge. Each day, I altered the material of my masks to modify their meaning. My project was rooted in object theatre, which is the use of everyday objects to create a story. I wrote a caption for each mask to prompt viewers to respond.

I experimented with augmented reality to provide more context for the message of my face masks. Occasionally, I added facial expressions to my masks to express emotions. Some masks incorporated personal objects. Throughout the process, I learned that while face masks often comment on common sentiments about our surroundings, they also reveal ourselves. My masks embodied messages, but they did not clearly convey emotions.

Once I completed my challenge, I decided to wear my most unusual face masks in public. In doing so, I discovered firsthand the most significant factors that lead to interactivity for face masks. I found that the more unusual the material, the better. By wearing my masks as a series of public performance art, I successfully established connection with strangers. They discussed their resilience with me, which helped strengthen my own. As an introvert, I always feared being the center of attention.

What if I entered a room and everybody looked at me? My face masks pushed me outside my comfort zone. They allowed me to be more outgoing than the unmasked version of myself. I learned how to accept not fitting in. In fact, by standing out, you can reach people on a deeper level.