The Magic Mirror

The Magic Mirror in use by a viewer at the Gray Area Artist's Salon Showcase, November 20-21, 2019.

Ever since humans first noticed themselves in reflections, we have been entranced and seduced by what we see there. Our oldest stories range from people falling in love with their own reflections to people using their reflections as a magical device to gain information or affirmation. Our newest technologies are opening up different avenues for engaging with those reflections. The Magic Mirror is an exploration of the relationship viewers have with these new technologies.

The Magic Mirror was shown at the Gray Area Artist’s Showcase in November 2019.

The vanity used for the Magic Mirror in its original state.
Set up of the Magic Mirror without divider curtain at Gray Area, November 2019.
Set up of the Magic Mirror with the curtain separator at Gray Area, November 2019

Starting with a vintage vanity dressing table (date unknown, but style is deco), I removed the original mirror and added the Magic Mirror. Embedded in the frame are 2 web cameras that capture the viewer. The computer display in the frame is an Apple Thunderbolt display and the graphics and videos were driven by an iMac Pro using MadMapper. All video was mixed live. Viewers would be asked questions in text on the screen and prodded to give spoken answers. Hypnotic ambient  music played softly in the background.

The installation was a private room and people would be allowed in 2-3 at a time. They would sit at the mirror, and the mirror would ask questions by displaying text on the screen. At first, the mirror would engage in small talk with the viewers; asking them their names, where they were from, how they were enjoying the showcase party, etc. The mirror would then ask what their sign was and then flash the appropriate zodiac icon on the screen and the graphics would get much more psychedelic and manipulated. The mirror would then start telling the viewers to open up the drawers of the vanity mirror (6 all together) and the viewers would find messages in the drawers.

Social media is corrupting you
What you see is what you get
The mirror loves you, but not as much as you love it!
Do you do everything you're told?
Don't trust the mirror - it lies!
This drawer left intentionally blank

Once the viewer had opened up all the drawers, the session with the mirror was concluded. Depending upon how the interaction went with the viewer, the mirror might be gracious, or rude and dismissive. It would say goodbye (or something else appropriate) and the screen would fade to black.