Dr. Alex Box, an internationally renowned artist, unpacks modern concepts of beauty, identity, and technology in her art, high-fashion collaborations, and public speaking events. We spoke with Dr. Alex about her beauty philosophy and how the future of technology will shape the evolution of identities in both the digital and physical worlds.
Dr. Alex Box, identity designer and beauty futurist
Jul 05, 2022
"I see identity design as the next important step to how we communicate and interpret multiple selves in the metaverse."
You call yourself an identity designer. Can you define what an identity designer is?
I use the term 'Identity Designer' to describe the methodology of creative practice in developing identity through the principles of form, function, personhood, aesthetic, ethos and psychology. Designing identity traverses both the physical and digital. It is how we can communicate through the human and post-human form. I see identity design as the next important step to how we communicate and interpret multiple selves in the metaverse.
How have the concepts of identity changed, or evolved, as the metaverse has developed?
As the metaverse develops, we're in the nascent stages of seeing identity through experience. Prior to this, identity and representation of self have been based in a binary physical body logic that we see echoed in the digital body, and is still held accountable to the physical and aesthetical logic of the real world. We have a notion of the body and its accepted limitations experienced through our senses – where we believe we end and our environment begins defines our limited body logic and shapes our identity. Where we have seen Web 1 and 2 digital body as a mirror of the real world, we now expand into the idea of a multisensory self.
As we spend more time in actualizing new types of embodiment, I predict the mirror model will reverse: the physical will mirror the digital. Hopefully this will challenge and begin to erode the recently established tropes of body image, self-worth and validation.
In an interview with Visual Atelier 8, you mentioned a future where people may have “multiple digital identities living autonomously.” Can you expand on that? What does that look like, and how will that change the way people define and identify themselves digitally?
We already have multiple identities living autonomously in our own metaverse of self, parkouring between our social media self, work self, home self, mindful self and many more. Up to now, these have been subtle shifts in tone, behavior, attitude and perception, local to our centralized mind.
One way of imagining identity as we move into Web 3 is that our multiple selves will acquire a physicality, presence, or essence; an emotional and thinking 'texture' that will develop and regenerate autonomously through AI learning.
As the digital aesthetic grows and matures, so too will the representation and definition tools allowing 'prismatic' identity to develop and integrate. If a prism is designed to change the direction of incoming light and then refract it, we are the base white light of the prism, and the refracted color is the metaverse and the way we define ourselves digitally.
How does your interpretation of identity coincide – or not – with social media?
I think we are witnessing the twilight years of social media. Any authentic connection, curiosity or self-expression has long gone.
In the first wave of the pandemic, the desire to connect authentically gave rise to intimate spaces emerging: like the first iteration of clubhouse. What excited me the most about that was that it was voice-only, and for the first time we were seeing intimate social interaction and identity forming without body aesthetic or image. Authentic collective identity formed in a group by association and commonality regardless of location. I feel that if social media has a future for identity, it is in small, intimate, decentralized, collective consciousness spaces that develop identity together through authentic connection.
You describe your art as an overlap of science, beauty, and technology. Can you break down how that overlap informs your art and your work as an identity designer?
Truth and prediction is core to science's basis for action, and in that purity and intrinsic material findings I find the inspiration for identity and new forms of beauty.
Main image of Dr. Alex Box.