Maya Georgieva featured in The Atlantic – It’s Cool to Look Terrifying on Pandemic Instagram

Maya Georgieva, Director, XReality Center interviewed by Kaitlyn Tiffany for It’s Cool to Look Terrifying on Pandemic Instagram in The Atlantic on the use of Augmented Reality. The article examines: Life is just four walls for many of us right now, but bizarre augmented-reality filters give us the illusion that it’s not.  Read excerpts of her thought below.

During lockdown, she’s seen filters getting both wilder and even more popular, because “you can transform instantly,” she said. AR is so mainstream now, Georgieva added, that it’s even showing up in schools and workplaces. Teachers might still raise an eyebrow at a weird Zoom background that covers a student’s entire face, but they probably accept at this point that some kids are going to call in with a background from Bikini Bottom. Even one of your colleagues might.

Plopping your face into a bizarre fantasy scenario or covering it with words or mutating it into something else entirely is changing how we use photo-sharing apps, Georgieva told me. “Instagram and Snapchat used to be about documenting time with friends, but now nobody is hanging out with friends; there’s no happy hour, no spaces for social engagement,” Georgieva said. Instead, these platforms are providing tools for people to illustrate their feelings “of fear, shock, loneliness, wanting something.”

Augmented reality is also now one of the few places where we can do things with large groups. If I use a goofy filter and then my friend sees it and manipulates it in a different way and then her friends play with it too, we all become part of a collective event—at a time when other group activities are not happening. “If something gets adopted, and you see it across the platform, even if it’s a representation of [the creator’s] feeling, it becomes such a shared experience,” Georgieva said. We’re all toying with the idea that distorting reality might be more fun than living in it—even if just for a few seconds.

“I think we’ll look at this pandemic and be able to see a lot,” Georgieva told me. She imagines that one day she’ll be able to walk around her hometown of New York City and pull up some of this moment’s history on her phone. “There will be so much created—of this mosaic of people and faces and their emotions and places they are and places they wanted to be.”

Read the full article It’s Cool to Look Terrifying on Pandemic Instagram in The Atlantic