The Face and Concepts of Identity: OMOTE

The face is a primary method of expressing one’s personal identity, but it can also be used to express other aspects, such as cultural identity.

Japanese artist Nobumichi Asai and makeup artist Hiroto Kuwahara, together with a support team, explore this self-expression with Omote, a unique project that utilizes facial digital mapping in order to create beautiful expressions of traditional Japanese aesthetics on a living model.

OMOTE / REAL-TIME FACE TRACKING & PROJECTION MAPPING from something wonderful on Vimeo.

Kuwahara explains: “When I look around nowadays, it is quite rare to see women with traditional Japanese aesthetics.  My intention is not to communicate [make-up] as influenced by other cultures, but to express [kesho (Japanese word for make-up)], Japan’s unique set of aesthetic ideals that have been passed on through generations.  I feel that conveying this message is important for the traditional and cultural aesthetic ideals of [kesho] to thrive.”

What is especially fascinating about this project is that it conveys the specifics of a certain perception of an identity in an extremely accessible fashion, both aesthetically and conceptually. The visually arresting projections allow the creative team to draw an audience in, and can provoke a discussion about what traditional Japanese aesthetics signify. Furthermore, they are able to achieve a look at a traditional cultural identity through the means of advanced technology, thus bringing together tradition and innovation.

Kuwahara notes that media art “attracts media artists who are more focused on technology, but I feel too much emphasis on technology potentially weakens [expression.]” Thus in this case, the technology is a vehicle for the expression of identity, rather than making up the entirety of an identity in and of itself.

Image Copyright © Project Omote: Nobumichi Asai, Hiroto Kuwahara. Model: Yuka Sekimizu. Source http://www.nobumichiasai.com/jp/omote.html

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