Reorganizing vision

Yesterday was the presentation of Picture House – Film, Art and Design at Belsay Hall near Newcastle. English Heritage and Dott 07 (Designs of the time 2007) invited film directors, artists and designers to take their inspiration from the 17th century manor house and inhabit it with art installations.

I’ll come back to the event with more information and images but for now i just can’t resist talking about one of the 3 installations commissioned by Juha Huuskonene.

0afaaacer3.jpgAleph, by Adam Somlai-Fischer and Bengt Sjölén, is a kinetic reflection display system made of 200 side mirrors from cars. A small mirror reflects only a fraction of the space around us; a mirror façade reflects most things around us, containing segments that are dark or bright, red or green. But a matrix of small mirrors, which can adjust their tilt according to the site they are facing, will form a display that uses the ever changing flux of the place to show images from certain points in space. That’s exactly what Aleph is doing.

The installation, which will spend six months in the gardens of Belsay, is experienced as a large matrix of reflections of the environment. It uses the spaces, people and objects placed or passing in front of it as a palette to display images from hidden viewpoints.


The reflections in the matrix of mirrors are changing and eventually building up images and other visual information.‭ ‬This is perceived fully from one specific viewpoint at a time,‭ ‬while getting fragmented by moving away from it.‭ ‬The installation produces its content in response to the presence,‭ ‬position and behavior of visitors.

Movement is achieved by‭ ‬2‭ ‬small electric motors, each mirror is equipped with a small circuit board with a microcontroller,‭ ‬a motor driver and an angle sensor.‭ A computer is using cameras to continuously analyze the surroundings, implement interaction and distribute targeting information to a network of microcontrollers positioning the mirrors.

The name Aleph was inspired by Jorge Luis Borges: Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion.

All my images.