We are all naked in a way when we share our information online. We expose our personal lives to the world, and the scary thing is that most people don’t even realize just how much personal information they’re broadcasting. NYU students Xuedi Chen and Pedro G. C. Oliveira collaborated on a project called x.pose that makes that digital nakedness a lot more tangible.
X.pose is a personalized, 3D printed mesh armature that sits over 20 reactive displays. Each little display window represents an area of New York; when the wearer is in a certain neighborhood, the corresponding display will change opacity to expose the wearer’s skin. The physical exposure corresponds to the digital exposure caused by our always-on location-revealing services like Google and Facebook. The more information is shared, the more the wearer’s skin is exposed.
Google, Facebook, and other services have gained our permission – often through long, difficult-to-understand terms and conditions that most people don’t bother to read – to track our movements and actions. We have become pieces of data to be triangulated and compiled, and plenty of mobile app junkies have no idea just how much of their personal information they share with the world every day.
For this particular project, the designers created a proprietary mobile app. The app broadcasts the wearer’s digital data for anyone to follow. Xuedi Chen wears the x.pose suit and her trail of information is reflected in the increasing transparency of her already-risqué ensemble.
The x.pose project is a wake-up call to those who think that their data is safe in the digital realm. Unless we are very careful to avoid using location-based apps (which more or less means leaving the smartphone at home), we are constantly sending data out into the aether. This exposes us not only theoretically, but in a very real sense as well. Chen and Oliveira’s project puts the concept of over-sharing into an easy to understand (and quite attention-grabbing) context.