Mirror Mirror, an Interactive Public Artwork designed by SOFTlab, is Coming to the City of Alexandria, Virginia in 2019.
Rendering courtesy SOFTLab
The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts has unveiled the design for Mirror Mirror by SOFTlab, a New York based design studio led by artist and architect Michael Szivos. This interactive artwork will be installed at the new King Street Park at the Waterfront from March to November 2019. It is the first artwork commissioned for Site/See:
New Views in Old Town, an annual series of temporary installations whose goal is to attract visitors, foster interaction, and enrich the experience of Alexandria’s waterfront.
Explaining his inspiration for this piece, which will be located along the Potomac River near King Street in Old Town, Szivos notes, “For Mirror Mirror we were inspired by the architecture of the lighthouse and how it uses a lenticular lens to cast light, panoramically connecting land and sea.” Like a lighthouse, Mirror Mirror will act as a beacon, beckoning visitors to venture into the new King Street Park at the Waterfront, interact with the artwork and explore and enjoy the new public plaza and civic space.
The artwork takes the form of an opened circle, 25 feet in diameter and approximately 8 feet high, that visitors can walk inside and around. This structure intheround, like a lighthouse, is both a place to look outward at your surroundings and a beacon to be seen from afar and watched. The materials and interactive nature of the artwork reference the special type of lens used at Alexandria’s own historic Jones Point Lighthouse – called the Fresnel lens the most advanced lens technology of the 1800s, which used a series of prisms to concentrate the light source and direct it into a narrow horizontal beam that was projected outward.
Playing with the ideas of reflection and refraction of light, Mirror Mirror’s interior and exterior are clad with a mirrored surface that reflects the surrounding environment in unexpected ways. “Through a panoramic array of mirrors and soundresponsive lights we hope Mirror Mirror will visually blend the waterfront, the fabric of Old Town, and the activity of pedestrians in the new park,” says Szivos. While the exterior is a monochromatic mirror that reflects the urban environment, the river and visitors themselves, the interior’s mirrored surface is tinted with the full color spectrum, providing another layer of vibrancy and interest. The artwork is also programmed to respond to sound with light, allowing visitors to interact with the artwork and affect its appearance using their voices and bodies.
LED fixtures inside each of the artwork’s vertical components are activated by sound and respond by producing light, transforming the frontfacing panels from mirrored to transparent, while the interior panels remain mirrored, creating an infinite, colorful reflection that Szivos compares to “a forest of light".
Mirror Mirror will be installed in March 2019 and remain in the park for the public to experience until November 2019.