ECA News Briefs

New Sound-Responsive Interactive Installation Coming to Alexandria’s Waterfront in 2019

Mirror Mirror, a temporary public artwork commissioned for Old Town Alexandria brings light and color to the Waterfront

Mirror Mirror is the first in a series of annual temporary public-art exhibitions commissioned by Alexandria’s Office of the Arts for forthcoming King Street Park at the Waterfront

The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts has unveiled the design for a new sound-responsive, interactive installation that will be coming to the Alexandria waterfront in 2019. Mirror Mirror by SOFTlab, a New York-based design studio led by artist and architect Michael Szivos, is a site-specific, temporary installation that will activate the new King Street Park at the Waterfront from March through November 2019.

Playing with the ideas of reflection and refraction of light, Mirror Mirror‘s interior and exterior are clad with a mirrored surface that reflects the surrounding environment in unexpected ways. The artwork is programmed to respond to sound with light, allowing visitors to interact with the artwork and affect its appearance using their voices and bodies. The mirrored exterior reflects the urban environment, the river, and visitors themselves but transforms from reflective to transparent when activated. The interior’s surface is tinted with full spectrum color. When illuminated, the interior panels remain mirrored, creating an infinite, colorful reflection that Szivos compares to “a forest of light.”

“For Mirror Mirror we were inspired by the architecture of the lighthouse and how it uses a lenticular lens to cast light, panoramically connecting land and sea,” said Svivos. “Through a panoramic array of mirrors and sound-responsive lights, we hope Mirror Mirror will visually blend the waterfront, the fabric of Old Town, and the activity of pedestrians in the new park.”

Like a lighthouse, Mirror Mirror will act as a beacon, beckoning visitors to venture into the new King Street Park at the Waterfront, interact with the artwork and explore and enjoy the new public plaza and civic space. The artwork takes the form of an opened circle, 25-feet in diameter and approximately 8 feet high, that visitors can walk inside and around.

The materials and interactive nature of the artwork reference the lens used at Alexandria’s historic Jones Point Lighthouse—called a Fresnel lens. It was the most advanced lens technology of the 1800s and used a series of prisms to concentrate the light source and direct it into a narrow horizontal beam that was projected outward.

Mirror Mirror will be installed in March 2019 and remain in the park until November 2019. SOFTlab was selected for by a task force and approved by the Commission for the Arts. Both groups also approved the design of the artwork. The task force will soon begin work on selecting the second artist for the series, whose work would be installed in 2020.

This project is the inaugural work for the Office of the Arts’ Site/See: New Views in Old Town public art series, an annual presentation of temporary installations that showcase Alexandria’s Public Art Program through innovative, exciting, high-quality contemporary art at this key riverfront location.

“The Site/See series aims to foster engagement and interaction with contemporary art on Alexandria’s flourishing waterfront,” said Diane Ruggiero, director of the Alexandria Office of the Arts and deputy director for the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities. “The Office of the Arts seeks to amplify Alexandria’s reputation as an arts destination with world-class artwork that captures that public’s imagination. We are aiming to bring work that is unlike anything that can be experienced in the region.”

About SOFTlab

SOFTlab is a New York City-based design studio created by Michael Szivos shortly after receiving a graduate degree in architecture from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. The studio has since been involved in the design and production of projects across almost every medium, from digitally fabricated large-scale sculpture, to interactive design, to immersive digital video installations. Through the studio’s unique blend of backgrounds as designers, artists, architects and educators they are able to approach every project from a fresh perspective to create rich spatial, graphic, interactive and visual experiences. By mixing research, creativity and technology with a strong desire to make working fun, SOFTlab attempts to create new and unique experiences.

About King Street Park at the Waterfront

King Street Park at the Waterfront is a new public plaza at the foot of King Street, historic Old Town’s main commercial street. The plaza is adjacent to the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the existing Waterfront Park, on the site of the former Old Dominion Boat Club’s building and parking lot. The park serves as the keystone to the revitalization of the Potomac River waterfront in Alexandria. It features an open plaza, a waterfront promenade, shade structures and modular space that can adapt to different uses throughout the year.

About the Office of the Arts

The Office of the Arts promotes the value of arts and culture in Alexandria by nurturing, investing in and celebrating the creative contributions of artists and arts organizations. Through engaging the community, encouraging participation, and facilitating access to the arts, the Office of the Arts works with local artists and arts organizations to build a vibrant community for all of the City’s residents, workers and visitors. Learn more at alexandriava.gov/publicart or follow @alexartsoffice on Instagram and Twitter. Add to the conversation with #artsALX.

(via the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts. Photo courtesy of the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts.)