Ready for Purim, 3D masks bring instagram filters to life

The masks are of such a high resolution that they can trick facial recognition technologies.

“Public Interaction: A Printed Mask on my Face” (2019) (photo credit: GUY AON AND YUKI JAMES)
“Public Interaction: A Printed Mask on my Face” (2019)
(photo credit: GUY AON AND YUKI JAMES)
Could the perfect costume for the upcoming holiday of Purim be a tridimensional mask which reproduces someone else’s face so accurately that it can trick facial recognition technology? This is what Israeli photographer Guy Aon, a graduate of industrial design at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, aims at offering with his project “Image: Prêt-à-Porter,” a journey between art, technology and the materiality of photography.
“As a photographer and artist, I was always interested in the human body. Throughout the years, I worked to turn pictures into tridimensional objects,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Aon started to develop the project after enrolling in the Masters course at Bezalel and began working at a chemistry lab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he was exposed to many different materials and techniques, he explained.
“I discovered PVA, a kind of paper that melts in water and disappears, and I started asking myself how I could use this system to turn pictures into objects,” he said.
His exploration brought him to combine the ancient Japanese painting technique called Suminagashi, or “floating ink,” and modern hydro-print techniques used in the automobile industry.
“I realized that through these techniques I could print the pictures on this special paper and when I would put them in the water, the only thing that would remain was the ink, which could then be transformed into all kind of objects,” he told the Post.
Using these methods, he started creating masks.

“My intention was not just to develop a technique but to challenge the world of photography. In modern life, pictures and filters in apps such as Instagram and snapchat have become our way of communicating: we are used to transform our faces and our identity, so I asked myself what would happen if we could change our image and use a filter not only in the virtual world but in real life,” he explained.
“This system has allowed me to bring photography back to the material world, turning it into an object or even in a part of our body,” he added.
The artist said that in order to print the masks he uses a high quality but regular printer.
Another application of the technique allows him to print images directly on to bodies, in a way similar to temporary tattoos but as “they are printed on paper while this is just ink directly on the body, it is much healthier,” Aon said.
After realizing that the masks created were so precise they could trick facial recognition technologies, he started to also consider the implications that this system could have in terms of protecting people’s privacy.
“I’m really close to perfection in creating what basically are masks molded out of faces,” he stated.
Asked whether there is a risk for this element to be dangerous, he said that this is a question that is relevant about technology in general, including for the internet or the social media.
“We have to think about both risks and opportunities, but this specific project could also help those in need of protection. Let’s remember what has happened in Hong Kong with protesters under constant surveillance by the Chinese Central government. Why could not they wear masks to defend their privacy?” he told the Post.
Although Aon’s technology is not yet available to the general public, the photographer is working to establish a start-up to improve the technique and turn it into a product that can be used in several sectors, including aesthetic medicine, the make-up industry and fashion.
Guy Aon will be performing and working on his creations in "Wearing Photography," which will take place in the opening night for the exhibition "Costume Party" at the Edmond de Rothschild Center at Rothschild 104, Tel Aviv, on March 5 at 8:00pm.
article taken from Jerusalem Post