ID-Me (2015, new version 2016)
ID-Me began as an exploration of visual identity and belonging among queer women and the anxieties that Niehaus has experienced in that context. There are stereotypes, both inside and outside of queer communities, about what queer women look like and are supposed to look like in order to belong, and though of course these definitions are flexible depending upon a variety of factors, they are both enforced and mediated through queer communities. Through representing a variety of queer women, the artist is questioning that narrative about static visual identity, and highlighting the collective contextual identity in common. The pacing of the piece and the connection to sensor data speaks to a collective anxiety, a reaching toward one another and toward a commonality of experience while constantly reevaluating ourselves.
A new version of ID-Me was created for Metasis (8-11 September 2016), with improvement to sound and visuals.
Niehaus sourced the images to create the avatars for this project from queer women who volunteered, mostly via social media. The artist's prior experience with 3D modeling was limited before completing this project, so she used MakeHuman to create the initial avatar structure and subsequently manipulated them in Blender. The motion between the different avatars is dependent upon a pulse sensor, which sends data via USB connection to Processing, which then sends it via OSC to openFrameworks. This data also affects the sound, which combines a recursive beeping sound with an interview Niehaus did with a friend several years ago. “Either you conform to that identity, or you risk being alone” encapsulates the anxiety the artist hopes to express with this project; about reaching toward community while also mediating a sense of self through it. The erratic, fast movement of the avatars and sound quality evokes an unsettled feeling while connecting the viewer to a particular awareness of their body via sensor data.
ID-Me, original version, 2015
ID-Me was created using C++/openFrameworks. The project code is available for download here.
The original project blog, which presented the project in order to be marked, can be found here.
A version of this project was included in COVEN Berlin's I'd Rather Be A Goddess Than A Cyborg exhibition, on view from 8th to 22nd May 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Documentation of this variation and of the exhibition can be found below.
In order to make a version of this piece that would be cohesive in context of the exhibition, and as a result of my collaborative process with COVEN, I played with a variety of different photographic textures over an avatar I had built of my own body. The images I used as textures in this series tie strongly to my own ‘coming out’ as a younger teenager.
IDRBAGTAC Exhibition and Festival Opening, 8th May 2015, Berlin, Germany. Photos by Judy Mièl.
A casual video of the piece in use during the exhibition. The pulse sensor is visible and attached to the viewer's right hand.