New York City-based design studio SOFTlab has unveiled a new, interactive public artwork in Alexandria, Virginia. Mirror Mirror is a kaleidoscope of color formed from an open circle that is 25 feet in diameter and 8 feet high. The structure invites visitors in, allowing them to move from the mirrored exterior into the rainbow interior. As the light changes, shapes and shadows dance in the reflections produced by both surfaces, creating mesmerizing patterns on the ground.
The exterior mirrors are intended to reflect the installation’s urban environment. Alexandria’s Waterfront, Old Town, and the surrounding park are outward reflections of the city. When guests walk into the circle, they are instead greeted by a more intimate reflection. Here, it’s the human face that is reflected, tinged in the hues of the rainbow for a surreal effect.
The artwork is not only dynamic in its reflections; it is also an interactive experience thanks to sound-responsive lights. LED lights within the interior blocks of the color are activated by sound. They transform the exterior mirrored surface into a transparent shell while maintaining the mirrored quality of the colored panels. In this manner, Mirror Mirror creates “an infinite, colorful reflection and forest of light.”
For inspiration, SOFTlab turned to the city’s history when commissioned by Alexandria’s Office of the Arts to produce the public artwork. In particular, they were moved by the city’s Jones Point Lighthouse and its unique lens. Built in 1855, the historic lighthouse contains a Fresnel lens, which was cutting-edge technology at the time. SOFTlab describes the technology as “a series of prisms to concentrate the light source and direct it into a narrow horizontal beam that was projected outward.”
Mirror Mirror, which is installed at the King Street Park at the Waterfront, will remain on view through November 2019. It is the first work commissioned for Site/See: New Views in Old Town, an annual series of temporary installation to enhance Alexandria’s Waterfront.