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Is "Selfpressionism" the artistic trend of the 21st century?
AI: The New Mirror of Self-Expression
If the advent of the internet and social media has disrupted our way of communicating and connecting with others, generative AI is initiating a new creative big bang by redefining the boundaries of personal expression.
This is a disruption of such significance that it could even usher in a new artistic era. By drawing on the foundations of Impressionism - a movement based on the capture of visual impressions - and Expressionism - a movement focused on emotional expression - generative AI and recent advancements in areas such as volumetric video, holograms, and AR are opening up avenues for a multiplied expression of self.
From AI to I Am
Consider this: the rise of models such as GPT-3 and ChatGPT have made it possible, to a certain degree, to standardize the principles of content creation. Essentially, those who wish to express themselves in writing no longer have to be gifted writers. Similarly, the emergence of multimedia AI provides everyone with the opportunity to showcase their artistic sensibilities, regardless of experience or skill level, with tools such as DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney, which generate visuals from a few lines of text. And this is only the beginning, as a vast number of apps are being built using their API or developing their own training data, opening up new avenues for creative expression in a wide range of fields and specific niches…
Through the use of avatars and digital humans powered by AI, individuals can now take on any appearance they wish, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. While avatar maker apps such as Lensa, Dawn, and Voi offer users the ability to create personalized avatars, companies like Reblika in the Netherlands, Eisko in France, Soul Machines in New Zealand, and Mawari in Japan are taking things a step further by developing hyper-realistic digital humans. Other companies such as Unreal Engine (Epic Games) in the United States or the Neon project (Samsung) in Korea are also positioning themselves in this emerging field.
And what about deepfakes, a specific type of generative AI used to create highly realistic videos, sounds, or images that make anyone say or do anything? While this technology has faced criticism, it isn't necessarily all bad, as companies like DeepCake and Hour One propose modeling digital twins of people and celebrities, with their consent, to scale content production.
Hyper-personalization: Andy Warhol meets Minority Report
Without a doubt, this intensification of the self will inevitably affect brand strategies, particularly in the quest for embodiment and hyper-personalization, which have moved beyond the realm of trends to become essential prerequisites.
The Web3 universe, as expected, is a trailblazer in this regard as brands are frequently built with direct input from consumers, following a logic of ownership, appropriation, and remixing. A prime example of this is the emergence of the Bored Ape community, one of the most popular in the blockchain world, where each Bored Ape is a one-of-a-kind virtual character sold as an NFT. Each Bored Ape owner is free to utilize it in whichever way they desire, such as creating unique merchandise, using it as an NFT for trading, or even displaying it in the metaverse - the possibilities are endless! This same concept applies to the CryptoPunks community.
The concept of a digital alter ego is spurring the development of fresh brand strategies, such as Direct-To-Avatar (DTA). This marketing approach involves crafting individualized avatars for each customer, then aiming promotional material at them within the virtual worlds they inhabit. The objective is to deliver tailored content that aligns with personal preferences and piques interest, thus driving engagement. Although relatively new, DTA is gaining momentum as technology evolves and consumers become increasingly at ease using avatars.
Likewise, an entire business ecosystem is sprouting up around avatars, presenting the opportunity to dress them up in different attire. As an illustration, the NFT Dogami can now sport GAP apparel and accessories, reflecting a creative frenzy that is more impactful than it initially appears. Notably, a 2022 study conducted by the Roblox platform found that 70% of GEN Z respondents draw inspiration from their avatars' style.
Ultimately, what brings all these trends together is none other than the ego. While the pursuit of recognition and validation of the individual have always been present in art and culture, technological advancements - particularly in generative AI - will enable them to be developed, from new angles. But, to what extent? Could extreme personalization in digital spaces lead to a disembodiment of one's personality in real life? And how can we ensure that we remain true to ourselves in an increasing “phygital” world?
Are you ready to give a fresh boost to your strategies? Great news - we've been hard at work with Benoit Zante and Quentin Franque to update our deep dive into the future of content (available for purchase here).