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The World’s Biggest Selfie Machine Looks Like A Blast

You’re so vain, I bet you think this sculpture is about you.

“I feel like a statue. I’ve always wanted to be…memorialized,” she says, seeing her 14-foot face glowing in front of her for the first time. And while maybe I’m misreading her tone, it doesn’t sound like sarcasm at all. No, it sounds like a very earnest moment–a normal person coming to terms with their own momentous existence. This is As We Are, an interactive sculpture that turns your face into a towering, three-dimensional selfie in seconds.

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[Photo: Ellen Dalagher]
The Wizard of Oz-ian sculpture, first spotted by Prosthetic Knowledge, was designed by interactive artist Matthew Mohr and is now on display at the Columbus Convention Center Atrium in Ohio.

To participate, you walk through the back of the skull to take your photo in a selfie booth. In the small room, a total of 29 cameras take a snapshot in unison from every conceivable angle. Then, software stitches those photos into your very own 3D head and projects it onto the exterior of the installation, which uses ribbons of curved LCD screens to approximate your full, 3D visage.

The sculpture addresses the relationship between self and representation of self, asking the subject of the portrait to reconsider presence through magnification,” writes Mohr. “It is intended to provide amusement and evoke larger discussions around the phenomena of social media, diversity, and the power dynamic of public art.”

Matthew Mohr [Photo: Doug Buchanan/courtesy of Business First]
And it’s successful at that. Because the sculpture is certainly amusing–it’s a downright monumental selfie, after all, 7,200 lbs of irony compared to the tiny 2D photos you’ll find on Instagram or Snapchat. But in that monumental stature, it’s also a visual articulation of human vanity. Much like 81% of Americans believe they could write a novel (even when so many professional writers fail at the task), I’d bet just as many can picture themselves on a Times Square Billboard, or imagine a deed from their life that’s worthy of a bronze statue in a park. The honors would be accepted humbly, of course. That’s part of the fantasy.

It’s why that unnamed woman’s response to As We Are really is so beautiful. “I’ve always wanted to be . . . memorialized.” Most of us just want to be acknowledged. But if you happen to have a sculptor on hand, sure, we’ll take the statute, too.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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