For my second major project for both my Studio and Seminar 3D class, I was tasked with creating a mask that I’d be able to wear in order to represent a sort of concept, and to wear it in a specific context that would fit the mask itself. I initially had several ideas for a mask, including alien looking designs, but deciding they were too generic or that they’d be too difficult to have a context for (or create), I eventually had the idea of using this mask project as a way to continue my earlier currency project (top right heart-shaped mask) . Getting right to work, I conceptualized this new mask as a “mask of shame” not too far away from the masks used during the Middle Ages, particularly in countries like Germany and England to humiliate minor criminals guilty of offense as punishment for their petty sins. This “mask of shame”, in my fantasy society, in which the highest echelons of society are full of kind and altruistic people, is used to, consequently, shame the people of the lower classes. They are seen as morally corrupt due to their alleged selfishness and their propensity towards criminal offenses. The death penalty is illegal in this fantasy society of mine, but exile is not, nor is shunning, so criminals are exiled from the cities while being forced to wear the mask, which lets people know of their transgressions.
The mask itself was made from cardboard (I cut it from a poster board) with a design from glossed paper (11 x 17 inches) taped on top of the cardboard cutout, created by tracing the paper cutout on top of the cardboard. I made the design itself on lllustrator, and conceptualized is as a subversion of the idea of a jester mask like you would see in Mardi Gras, with the intense colors symbolizing love as well as anger simultaneously, and the heart shaped face of the mask referencing the fantasy society using the heart-shaped coins from before. The expression on the mask’s face is one of fear and trepidation– the eyebrows are curved upward, and rather than a mouth, I instead designed the mask to have an black X representing the notion of censorship or silence– the wearer simultaneously has no voice and is deprived of his/her right to exist as an individual, and is simultaneously ignored by all, with everyone pretending like the wearer does not exist. The torture and punishment is more psychological and symbolic rather than physical. The criminal is censored, and erased, and is made to look like a fool (he/she is mocked) as a result of the mask resembling one of a jester.
After completing the design, tracing the design on the cardboard, cutting the cardboard, and taping the design on top of the cardboard, I made sure to leave little bits of cardboard on the side of the mask big enough to punch holes in, so I could take some string, thread it through the holes, and tie them to each other and to the mask itself so it could stay on my face. Getting the actual string through the holes I made was difficult since the string I used was too big for the holes cut out with scissors. I had to use the scissors I initially used to create the holes in the first place in order to push the string through to the other side. Once I did that and tied the knots, I encountered the problem of the actual length of the string being either too small for my head (the mask wouldn’t fit in front of my face), or too long (the mask would not stay on my face). After cutting pieces of the string and attempting to tie knots with other pieces of string to get the size just right, a classmate of mine eventually assisted me in measuring the circumference of my head, and telling me where to tie the knot and how long to make the strings. I eventually decided to tape that specific place together since I figured it would hold.
As mentioned before, I had to take a picture of myself wearing the mask in a specific context or environment. Given that my fantasy society did not exist in this reality, and I had planned to take a picture of myself being “exiled” with the mask on, I improvised and drew for myself a background depicting a city and its outskirts, and the leaders of the city telling me to “LEAVE” and scanned it into Photoshop, then took a picture of myself with the mask on, head hanging down in shame, and Photoshopped/cut myself out of that first picture, and transferred my body to the Photoshop file with the drawn background but on a separate layer. It worked out beautifully in the end.