representation posts

This Year’s Virtual Model October 26th, 2009

Not new, but new to me: Lands’ End Virtual Model, allowing people to shop online for clothes and see what the clothes would look like on a person. The idea is that the person is you, the shopper, but there’s a fundamental disconnect between projection onto a mannequin (digital, even) and projection into a mirror. The person in the mirror is us. It doesn’t approximate us, it looks exactly like us and it naturally moves in response to our every movement. The virtual model is clumsy in comparison.

I think the whole notion of seeing the clothes in context is (including in combination) is brilliant, but I think the conceit (and it really is just that) of presenting this us a projection of us is completely wrong. Looking in the mirror is the gold standard and this breaks that badly. There’s a lot of customization (just like an avatar builder) of height, weight, body type, skin tone, hair style, etc.

So I started with
model1

Umm, hello, body image norms?

and eventually customized him/me/it to end up with
model2

Umm, is it weird to post this? It’s virtual, but the concept suggests this approximates what I look like in my underpants. I can tell you not to worry, it really doesn’t, but the idea seems a bit transgressive, because of the level of accuracy we expect from representations. A photograph isn’t me, but carries a certain truth. Also don’t worry, no actual underpants pictures of me are coming up in this post either.

As for the virtual me, I think we’ll feel better if he/me has some clothes on!

model3

Frankly, I think this Simpsons avatar is more true version of me, even though it abandons reality, it also offers a kernel of truth and overall feels more accurate.
simpsons

Update: maybe the avatar isn’t meant to be a model, but instead an effective salesperson?

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Automobile Avatars June 16th, 2008

familyaboard.jpg

I’m seeing a lot of these lately on rear windows of minivans and similar larger family-sized vehicles: icons that represent every member of the household (including pets).

Seems like a new example of personalization; an untapped bit of car real estate, and a new message to publish (who are the – writ rough – people in our household).

I wonder if this is more common among Hispanics and/or the churchgoing. Any ideas? Do you have one of these? Where did you hear about it? Where did you get it?

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How we see ourselves, and how we make others see us June 17th, 2007

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Alter Ego: Avatars and Their Creators is a recent book that presents photos of (online role playing) gamers alongside their online representations (or avatars). The NYT has excerpted images here and the BBC features smaller images (some overlap) but more narrative info here.

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Flat Daddy revisited April 9th, 2007

flatdaddy.jpg
Last year, I blogged about Flat Daddy (a full-size cardboard-mounted photo of a deployed military family member, providing a form of tangible substitute). Now, a woman details her own family’s struggle with the challenge deployment has brought, and the experience with Flat Daddy.

But much of the time we simply keep moving forward as if there’s no hole in our family. It’s sheer pretense, as flimsy as a tissue, and I’m not sure how long it’s sustainable – or if it will get us through the long days ahead.

But it’s better than pretending a smiling cutout loves us back.

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Out of the box? There is no box. Really. January 6th, 2007

truetime-box.jpg
product_box.gif
box.jpg
box11.jpg
120dvd2ipod1.jpg

Software advertised on the web is often showed in some version of what it might look like on the shelf. Even if there is no box; the software is ordered online and downloaded. There’s no physical tangible artifact. No box, no printed manual, no shrink-wrap, no CD. But the box denotes “I’m for sale” and persists as a representation of the purchase.

Note that some of the above may be actually available in boxes, but I suspect most of them are not. Indeed, some of the box images are incredibly simplistic, iconic rather than representative of what you might see in a store. Maybe someone read these Photoshop tips for creating an image of a product box.

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