Text by Marguerite Bones
Being unable to gather people for a panel discussion, we thought of finding a way to support jewellery artists without risking visitors’ health nor their style… And that’s how the ‘Blingsta’ project was born: a series of Face Filters, realistically rendered from existing jewels offered for sale. A way for the floating-by audience to try on jewels without touching them. We released the project in the Atelier de Paris on the last weekend of October.
The Atelier de Paris is an incubator for young artists in search of professional settlement, they also welcome exhibitions from makers, and this was a premiere for them in terms of showcasing virtual making. Situated next to Bastille, in the very heart of Paris, next to sneaker and furniture shops, its vitrine is passed by hundreds of people daily. We took this opportunity to address Blingsta to the people on the outside looking in. Using a complicated set of wire and wireless connections, borrowed screens and plexiglass boxes, Lauren Fong and I created an interactive media installation. Random visitors and industry experts were able to see themselves in various sets of heights and screen sizes, trying on the jewellery by Ruudt Peters, Claudia Lepik, Räthel & Wolf and yours truly.
The most interesting thing to observe was people’s reaction: some teenagers that didn’t dare (or care) to come in, flashed the QR code in less than a second, tried on all the filters in another, laughing and leaving as fast as they flashed. The second best was my grandma’s disappointment, when she thought there were no jewels to be seen, and her excitement when she saw the 6Spikes popping up on her ears like magic. Many showed their enthusiasm and surprise, while tilting their heads to catch the earrings, gazing at themselves on different screens finding the perfect fit.
Naturally, discussions erupted about the fundamental gap in craftsmanship; to be more specific, how digital filters are filling up the gap between the traditional jewellery skills and the digital skills required to create these filters. Indeed, between a bench and a computer lay some differences, and while Ruudt Peters looks for a perfect click in the closure, the focus of digital creators like Celia Betourne, Louis Cortes and Vincent Rabatel is to render this delicate piece visible on the screen. While Claudia Lepik creates unique silver ‘blobs’ for each of her nose pieces, digital artists are busy with animating the natural movement of the chain when it hangs down. While Räthel & Wolf design a perfect non-invasive cuff, Celia, Louis and Vincent calculate the perfect bounce of the hanger to make it dangle naturally under your ear. And while I’m sharpening the silver on my spikes, Loïc Periller is adjusting the reflections to realistically bounce off the light.
The virtual wearing of those pieces made an interruption in the traditional jewellery shop experience; many people that wouldn’t have dared to try on these pieces were suddenly wearing one, or two. This opened the possibility for a male public, for example, to see themselves with an earring, erasing the excuse ‘this is not for me’ and taking advantage of the possibility to try it at home, watching themselves looking fierce, without any fear of judgment.
Some male visitors told me their thoughts about finely piercing that damn ear, and slipping in some metal for their daily style…
The current health crisis is inviting people to use what they have in their hand most of the time —their phones— to do shopping, somehow erasing geographic borders along the way. Although filters have mostly been used for entertainment thus far, we observe more and more initiatives like Blingsta by CO, where the lines between entertainment and shopping is being blurred. Several thousand people tried on our filters, hundreds shared it for our giveaway action, yet the winner of this quest was still surprised that she was getting the real piece!
Now that instagram is positioning itself as a shopping platform with its new updates, we might encounter more and more jewellery filters, but it might take some time before we can ‘shop the filter’ directly in the way Blingsta have envisioned it, as it often does with any avant-garde experiments.
Find Marguerite Bones on Instagram under @miam0miam
Social Club was produced and hosted by Paris-Amsterdam based artist Marguerite Bones, with generous support from Parcours Bijoux and Atelier des Paris. We would like to thank Julie Robineau for documentation images, and Lauren Fong for technical support. Social Club initiative by Current Obsession is supported by the Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industries Fund NL.