Melissa Huang

Region: South

 Through glitch-inspired self-portraiture I study the desire, failure, and dissonance associated with portraying an idealized self for a physical and digital audience. I consider how those of us coming of age with the Internet and social media have constructed alternative identities online—fantasies, really—that bear little resemblance to our IRL selves.

Using paint, projected video, and augmented reality, I transform my image beyond believable authenticity: it is fragmented, replicated, and distorted to the point of becoming disconnected from my real body.

But what is a real body? We can now birth new versions of the self with the click of a button. This digital plasticity blurs the line between reality and fantasy, creating an unsettling gap between who we are and how we wish to be perceived. We form our sense of self through the Sartrean act of looking at others and being looked at. Our understanding of and ability to manipulate the digital look plays a growing role in this identity formation process.