Unmasking Emotions in the Era of Masks

Abtract

We have lived behind masks for a year now. Basic casual human interactions have been lost. We must not only be socially distanced in the physical world, but also in the psychological. Masks have 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 thesis is 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.