For the public art work “Mirror Mirror” on the waterfront in Alexandria, the New York design studio SOFTlab was inspired by the beacon of the Fresnel lens.
As part of “Site / See: New Views in Old Town,” an annual series of temporary installations on the waterfront in Alexandria, New York design studio SOFTlab has unveiled the public artwork “Mirror Mirror.” Michael Szivos, project leader, says, “For Mirror Mirror, we’ve been inspired by the architecture of the lighthouse, especially the way the beacon connects land and sea in a panoramic way.”
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” takes the form of an open circle whose mirrored inside and outside surfaces refer to the structure of Fresnel’s Fresnel lens, which is still used today in the Jones Point Lighthouse in Alexandria. While the exterior, like a monochromatic mirror, reflects the urban environment, the river and the people, the surface of the interior reflects the full color spectrum.
Visitors can interact with the artwork and visibly influence its appearance. LED lights in the vertical components of “Mirror Mirror” react to noises – when illuminated, the mirrored front panels become transparent, while the inner mirror surfaces respond with a play of light.
In the future, a new temporary art installation is to be erected every year in the Waterfront Park as part of the Site / See: New Views in Old Town series.