Client: Alexandra Office of the Arts
Location: Alexandria, VA, United States
Completion date: 2019
Alexandra Office of the Arts
Mirror Mirror was commissioned by the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts. The artwork takes the form of an opened circle, 25 feet in diameter and 8 feet high, that visitors can walk inside and around. This structure in-the-round, like a lighthouse, is both a place to look outward at your surroundings and a beacon to be seen from afar and watched. The materials and interactive nature of the artwork reference the special type of lens used at Alexandria’s own historic Jones Point Lighthouse – called the Fresnel lens – the most advanced lens technology of the 1800s, which used a series of prisms to concentrate the light source and direct it into a narrow horizontal beam that was projected outward. The circular array of two-way mirrored chambers reflects a panorama of the surrounding historical context and river on the exterior while the interior multiplies the reflection of pedestrians in a full spectrum of color as they enter the artwork. At night, sound responsive LEDs in make the chambers transparent and turn them into infinity boxes, creating a forest of interactive light.
Mirror Mirror was the inaugural installation for an annual program to select an artist to create an installation for a new waterfront park in Old Town Alexandria. The goal is to activate the new park with artwork that addresses the historical context in a progressive way. Located at the end of King Street on the banks of the Potomac River, the park and artwork act as a beacon at the end of a historically rich corridor.
The process was unique because we were selected based on our previous work rather than a proposal, which is typically the case with public artwork commissions. We developed the project after a site visit and meeting with people form the local community, the tourism board, and visiting many historical sites. This is how we prefer to work rather than simply producing a proposal based on a brief without any engagement with the client, community, or context. These visits and meetings directly led to the main inspiration for the project, which was a historic lighthouse on a train just south of the site.