Sigríður Birna Matthíasdóttir
A beguiling and pensive 3D designed body of work by the recent Iceland University of the Arts graduate
Sigríður Birna Matthíasdóttir is materialising, uncovering and manifesting a new perspective of the relationship between our physical and virtual realities. Initially, she became fascinated by how we perform our identities online. Her accentuated and fictional style appears firmly rooted in the digital space, however, it is underpinned by intelligent and meticulous research which steers her visually.
After graduating in fashion design from Studio Berçot in Paris, Sigríður went on to study MA Design exploration and translations at Iceland University of the Arts, where she graduated from recently. Sigríður’s fashion background influenced the direction of her MA studies, resulting in a thesis on “fashioning identity online and how online avatars are fundamentally shifting the relation between fashion and the performance of identity”. Her visual outputs are a true embodiment and testament to that research. Sigríður was influenced by ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ by Jean Baudrillard, performance theory such as ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’ by Erving Goffman and the Instagram AR model Lil Miquela. Despite Sigríður’s philosophical and theoretical approach to the topics, there is an intuitive and playful visualisation at work.
A key discovery for Sigríður was the framework ‘cyborg anthropology’, a discipline that studies the interaction between people and technology from an anthropological perspective. Her adoption of the term ‘second self’ to describe her online identity also fundamentally helped to shape the process of her work. Focussing on addressing the ways in which, we upload our physical identities, into the virtual realm, Sigríður created an avatar of herself. Designed as realistically and familiar to her physical being, it attempts to challenge and explore the blurred lines of these two worlds.
Prior to developing digital renders, Sigríður often experiments in the physical space by crafting two-dimensional paper dolls from images of herself, playing with the concept of an online self outside of the digital realm. This manipulated image, once photographed is unrecognisable as Sigríður and challenges the boundaries of identity that are explored in her digital work.
Today, as social media continues to uphold an infamous reputation for contributing to depression and loneliness, Sigríður illustrates that it might not be all doom and gloom. Her research also reveals that when social media is embedded within a healthy social context, it can in fact empower. Better self-esteem and well-being can transgress the digital space to users’ physical, everyday lives. Examining the marriage and convergence of the two worlds, Sigríður proposes that “while our physical and virtual lives are commonly thought of as two disconnected places, perhaps they should be framed as one life that exists along a continuum”.
As well as developing independent projects, Sigríður is part of the digital collective Digi-Gxl. When asked how it feels to be involved, with what looks to be an eclectic and dynamic mix of creatives, she revealed that “working within certain subcultures it can be very empowering to be a part of a group or a collective where individuals have the same or similar interests”. The collective is certainly channelling an exciting narrative, one that you should keep a close eye on. For Sigríður, she will be continuing to explore the digital identity and virtual fashion and frankly, we can’t wait to see what comes next.