Augmented Reality Filters and the Faces as Brands: Personal Identities and Marketing Strategies in the Age of Algorithmic Images

In Gabriele Meiselwitz (ed.), Social Computing and Social Media: Applications in Education and Commerce (Part II) , HCI International 2022 Conference Proceedings, vol. 15, Cham, Springer, 2022, pp. 1-12. DOI 10.1007/978-3-031-05064-0_17

Abstract. This paper analyzes the so-called “augmented reality filters” (ARF), a technology that makes it possible to produce and spread widely on social media a particular type of video selfies that are manipulated live while filming – for example, by modifying the somatic characters of the producer’s face. The first part of the paper analyzes ARFs in the light of a socio-semiotics of dispositives. This approach makes it possible to identify three interconnected aspects of ARFs: their technological consistency, which is closer to mixed reality than to augmented reality; their socio-psychological uses, and in particular personal identity construction through body image manipulation; and finally, their economic-political implications, linked to face recognition and social surveillance. The second part of the paper focuses on the marketing uses of ARFs and, in particular, on branded ARFs transforming users’ faces. In these cases, the radical involvement of brands in defining the identity of users requires a profound rethinking of the mechanisms of trust that bind them to consumers.
Keywords: Media semiotics · Socio-semiotics · Digital advertising · Augmented reality · Mixed reality · Enunciation · Identity · Algorithmic capitalism · Media experience · Dispositive

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Full Professor of Media Semiotics Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Milan (Italy)

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