The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts Presents Mirror Mirror a New Sound-Responsive Installation

By Editorial Team on March 26, 2019
LED tubes within each colored infinity mirror will produce an infinite forest of light when activated by ambient sound. Rendering by SOFTlab.
Event: Saturday, March 30 from 2pm to 9pm

Meet the Artist: Wednesday, May 22 @ 7 pm
Blackwall Hitch, 5 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA

The City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts will soon unveil a new sound-responsive, interactive installation at the Alexandria waterfront. 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 expansion of Waterfront Park through November 2019.

The public is invited to celebrate the arrival of new public art on Saturday, March 30, with festivities throughout Waterfront Park from 2 – 9 pm.

Inspired by the historic Fresnel lens of Jones Point Lighthouse, Mirror Mirror responds to sound with illuminated color. Visitors can talk, sing, and play within the installation and be bathed in rainbow-hued light. The artwork does not make noise. It responds to sound with light, allowing visitors to interact with the artwork and affect its appearance using their voices and bodies. (Click here to see and hear a working model.)

It is mirrored and reflects the urban environment, the river, and visitors themselves. The interior’s surface is washed in full-spectrum color. When illuminated, the 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 Szivos. “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 to Waterfront, interact with the artwork, and explore and enjoy the new public plaza and civic space.

The installation is an open circle, 25 feet in diameter and approximately 8 feet high. Visitors are encouraged to walk, dance, play, and sing inside and around it.

SOFTlab was selected by a task force and approved by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. Szivos’s team was commissioned to create this original work that was inspired by Alexandria. Szivos’s inspiration comes from Jones Point Lighthouse’s Fresnel lens, the most advanced lens technology of the 1800s. Through a series of prisms, it concentrated light and directed it in a narrow beam that projected far across a waterway.

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. During the reception on March 30, news of the 2020 artist will be shared.

“The Site/See series aims to activate Alexandria’s flourishing waterfront with engaging contemporary art,” said Diane Ruggiero, director of the Alexandria Office of the Arts. “We’re looking to amplify Alexandria’s reputation as an arts destination with world-class artwork that captures that public’s imagination. We will be bringing work that is unlike anything that can be experienced in the region.”

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About SOFTlab

SOFTlab ​is a design studio based in New York City led by Michael Szivos. The studio operates at the intersection of architecture, art, video, and interactive design. They approach projects by exploring contextual conditions and effects. By examining local conditions, they create interventions that become an extension of something existing on site that might not be readily apparent. The studio develops their work as a translation of these often dynamic phenomena on the site. In that way, their work forms an experiential contextualism, rather than a literal one. The specificity of the connection to the site is made through active engagement. This allows SOFTlab to achieve projects which are unexpected, yet become appropriate as they unfold.

About Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park 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 ex an expansion of 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 or follow @alexartsoffice on Instagram and Twitter. Add to the conversation with #artsALX.