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The Mirror

"The Mirror" (2000) is an interactive spatial video and sound installation by Ikuo Nakamura.

The Mirror

Ikuo Nakamura: The Mirror

The Mirror is an interactive spatial video and sound installation, using lasers and Holographic Optical Elements. By posing and moving yourself in front of 'The Mirror' the viewer sees him- or herself three-dimensionally, she sees herself in the present and in the past, and she can hear the interference between these images of past and present. In The Mirror, the visitor sees how her Now breaks free and creates a distance from her Past which is distorted, shifted, lost, or fades away at every moment.

When looking into a mirror, we see a flat yet highly accurate real-time reflection of ourselves and the things around us. The interactive video and sound installation The Mirror takes this experience and recreates it in a more complex form: the viewer sees him- or herself three-dimensionally, she sees herself in the present and in the past, and she can hear the interference between these images of past and present.

The installation uses lasers and Holographic Optical Elements to produce a three-dimensional representation of the viewer. This representation can be seen floating in the space in front of the viewer at about 1 metre distance from the Holographic Optical Element (HOE) which works like a lens by using a laser as a light source. Additionally, the visitor's movements trigger sounds which, like the live video image, are processed by the installation's computer in realtime.

By posing and moving in front of The Mirror, the visitor sees how her Now breaks free and creates a distance from her Past which is distorted, shifted, lost, or fades away at every moment. At the same time, the interference between the Now and the Past can be heard as rustling noise. When the visitor stands still, the projected image fades, yet as she moves again, The Mirror projects its hybrid layering of time, space and sound.

 

Longer description

I used to look into my mother's mirror when I was a child. I remember that I was so frolicsome playing alone in front of the mirror. And now, I don't remember what I saw through that small mirror. (Nakamura)

Searching for dynamic holographic time experiences, The Mirror (2000), whose prototype was developed during a fellowship at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (1998), has been conceived and built up as a spatial and acoustic time interferometer device. It incorporates a Holographic Optical Element to transform video signals into spatial images. An infrared CCD camera records our moving images illuminated by an infrared LED source and sends them to a computer -- to be temporarily stored in a memory bank -- recalling them back in distorted order.

Here, the hologram is devoid of any content, acting purely as a light filter that overlaps two different images of the viewer, his current one, and his immediate one focused one meter in front of it. Each one bears its own sound, triggered by a motion detection program from video source, that acknowledges the movement in front of the camera. By reducing and manipulating the interval between the past and the present from a few seconds to zero, our consciousness of both moments interfere. We see how our present creates our past, which is distorted, shifted, lost, or fades away every instant, thus experiencing what was happening in the past, becoming the same as thinking and acting for the future.

Drawing from the rich technological, scientific and cultural Asian traditions of mirrors as artifacts, and David Bohm's holographic hypothesis with its implicate and explicate orders, Nakamura has created a metaphoric holographic hybrid to reflect on the bewitched and haunting effects of media screens as repositories of memories. However, what Nakamura postulates interfering these non synchronized spatial images is, that time, like light, might behave following waving patterns.


Short text by Nadia Palliser

According to an old chinese myth, at the beginning of time there were two kinds of people. These people were constantly at war, fighting each other forever in never-ending battles. The enjoyment of life had reached zero-point and a wizard (these existed at the time) decided to cast a spell: he banned the most gruesome people to the reflecting inside of the mirror; they were doomed to imitate physical appearance, movement and facial expression to the end of time. At last there was peace and man lived in prosperity as he admired himself in the reflecting surface of the mirror. Spellbound by narcissistic urges, he soon forgot about the mirror people, trapped behind the silver coating. Yet, a wizard's spell, as powerful as it may strike, never lasts forever: it gradually loosens and frays at the edges at a vexingly slow rate. The mirror people find their revenge in deception. Just as you might stand in front of the mirror, you may notice a small movement of the elbow, an eyebrow that seems a little out of place or a shifty look that seems strangely unfamiliar - the mirror becomes not a reflection of what you are but, moreover, of what you wish you were not.

The Mirror was shown in the DEAF00 exhibition.

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