Iris, designed by NYbased design studio SOFTlab, is an interactive array of responsive mirrors and LEDs that creates a circular enclosure.
Video courtesy of: SOFTlab Photos courtesy of: Signal Festival
Iris was installed within the Mirror Chapel as part of the Prague's 2018 Signal Festival. The mirrors rotate in response to the movement of people in the circular space, while the LEDs respond to ambient sound. The circular array can be thought of as a lens that reflects both light and sound.
The installation is meant to blend or confuse light and sound through its capacity to focus and unfocus these mediums. As the mirrors rotate, they open the perimeter allowing not only direct views of the Mirror Chapel, but also creating a Mise en abyme, mixing the surrounding chapel, viewers, and light in a vertically fragmented, recursive, and panoramic image.
Both the intricate nature of the Mirror Chapel’s architecture and its use as a classical concert hall drive the design of the installation. A mirrored object in the round reflects the ornate surroundings externally while reflecting the viewer infinitely on the interior of the circular enclosure. This reflective enclosure is disrupted as people approach for a closer look. In this way, it is curiosity and sound that activate the installation.
A closer look has the potential to produce a delightful bewilderment as the exterior leaks in while space and sound become multiplied in unexpected ways. In that sense, Iris is not an object, image, or artifact on its own, but relies on the existing space as the medium. As it bends, multiplies, and conflates light and sound it calls into question the lenses (both mechanical and cultural) that limit or expand our spatial experiences.