2021 Brief: Digital Doppelgangers in a Virtual Universe

Consider which aspects of your personal identity that are shown and which are hidden in changing contexts. Through embroidery celebrate, champion or critique your chosen online or offline communities.

Context for Brief

Rebecca Salter, printmaker and President of the Royal Academy, was quoted in the Royal Academy of Arts magazine saying, ‘how vital it would be for people to be able to continue to experience beauty and joy, humour and the sublime during this difficult time’. She was of course referring to how the CoronaVirus crisis had engulfed the world and impacted the public’s access to art galleries and museums.

In response, art institutions, recognizing this need have connected communities, offered online gallery tours or interactive digital based activities. Textile practitioners and businesses have offered online classes and creative stitch challenges, developing virtual global communities. More than ever before, culture is being consumed in a borderless digital sphere by our digital dopplegangers.

The Brief

The 2021 H&L brief asks you to consider which aspects of your personal identity that are shown and which are hidden in changing contexts. Consider the two faced Roman god Janus who symbolised beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways. When are you a parent, a boss, a consumer, a patient, a protector, a student or a crusader? Take time to reflect upon your corporeal self versus within the habitat that sustains you in contrast with your virtual identity within the digital universe that connects you to others.

Through hand or machine embroidery explore the joys, opportunities, dangers and fears presented by our hyper connected world. Celebrate, champion or critique your chosen online or offline communities and share your vision of this digitally mediated universe. 


Combining the real with the virtual you should consider incorporating pattern, colour, texture and form from real surroundings; a bowl of fruit, light streaming through a window or clothing glimpsed in a wardrobe. This visual interpretation can be contrasted or combined with an abstract or figurative digital aesthetic; a page of html, the endless scroll of facebook, an animated gif, to tell a story of a contemporary Janus.

Your embroidery should aim to capture the dynamism and duality of a life lived on and offline. Take advantage of the latest virtual cultural offerings to inspire your visual language and look at your surroundings to discover the beauty in the everyday.

Explore the 2021 Brief Pinterest boards:

Avatar Digital Self

Avatar Digital Self

Digital Art

Digital Art

Screenshot 2020-11-10 at 14.17.14

Janus Mythology

Virtual Augmented Reality

Virtual Augmented Reality

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