Since we spend so much time on social media such as Instagram, Facebook, but also on professional networks like LinkedIn, I started to think about the second identity we create, our digital identity. Due to photo filters and the careful selection of what to show and present, our digital identity can become quite different from our physical one.

I became fascinated by the very moment in which our two identities collide. The moment we meet a person we got to know on some online platform for the first time physically, for instance on a date or job interview. Where the perfectly created image of a person clashes with a real human.

I wanted to make this special and very exciting moment tangible in space and started to create an interactive art installation. In the process of building on this idea, the installation became so much larger and technically more complex than initially planned, that it took me actually three years of finishing it. Many friends helped me along the way to continue with my undertaking.

The outcome is SURFACE X – an interactive art installation made of 35 umbrellas. First, all umbrellas are opened and create this large sphere with a diameter of 3,5 meters, flawless and impressive. Until… someone comes closer. At this moment, it becomes impossible to keep the perfect surface intact. It cracks and folds and our true self is revealed. Then suddenly, the umbrellas shy away and close within milliseconds. The installation crumbles and shrinks and loses its polished look. Up close, one sees less surface but more of what lies behind, cables, sensors and a steel frame.

It is left to the approaching person to judge: Does it look ugly or broken? Or rather interesting, maybe even beautiful?

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The outcome: The interactive art installation SURFACE X