Decode: A review of Venetian Mirror. By Imoh Bare

At first glance the massive frame containing what seems to be a life size black and white picture looks like a publicity poster for a remake of a 1970’s horror movie. The ghost-like images it projected appear faded and transparent, allowing each image to be seen through other. Figures looked animated as they seem to float or even fly around the surface of the full frame. However there seemed to be an reserved space for what seems to look like the main figure or figures.

As one reads this text the only thing that goes through the mind is to read further to find out what this curious work of art is. That is the exact thought that will go through ones mind when in the presence of this giant mirror. On closer observation, I realized that the figures in the mirror were actually animated and seemed to change position as time passed. The images and their positions varied. It looked almost random, as if images were pre-recorded and then projected through the screen. It was only when I recognised two of the figures in the mirror as my colleagues that I started getting a sense of what was going on.

Standing or sitting at an appointed space directly opposite the mirror seems to trigger its senses and a hidden camera takes your animated image in different frames and slowly projects them through this mirror that I can now call a computer monitor. And as you change your pose the image slowly transforms from the previous pose to the current, leaving a faded transparent morph effect as if ghostly. The artist (Fabrica) seemed to not only experiment with interaction between the observer and the art work, but of space and time.

Interactivity seems to be the best next step for gallery art exhibitions since the print and photography have changed the way we both view and value artworks. It isn’t just enough to look at an image and appreciate it any more. For instance, if I want to look at what should be the most famous painting of all time, the ‘Mona Lisa’, all I have to do is google it then select from a number of images of the Mona Lisa to view. This is how cheap the Mona Lisa has become. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a repainted interactive Mona Lisa? Possibly as you tilt your head to examine her more, she shifts the eyes to focus on you?It will give the art work more value. That is the impression I got from the visit to the Decode exhibition and studying the many interactive artworks displayed.

While studying the Venetian Mirror, I felt a mixture of amazement and fear inside. Amazed at how as I stood in front of the massive frame it slowly recorded my image and projected it in different ways as I moved. And afraid because of the look of the image. I, along with other viewers, appeared to look ghostly, like what we saw there was only a faded image or images of us decades before. To add to the thrill was how slow it was for the image to appear. Like the mirror was alive and was taking its time to study you. Maybe that is the step that interactivity with art is taking us, we might no longer study art but it us. As we visit the gallery, we might be amazed at how the art work may view us and interpret what it sees. Then we may no longer become the audience but the piece of art itself.

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One Response to Decode: A review of Venetian Mirror. By Imoh Bare

  1. KayOS says:

    Hi Imoh,

    I also loved this piece of work… strangely, it is not an internet-based piece of work – but rather, self-contained; however, I would still say that it is a work created in the age of networked code, as issues such as self-exposure (going back to Varnelis) are clearly discussed within it. So I still think it is about internet-age digital artwork… even though it is clearly routed as an installation piece.

    With the internet being a fast-paced world of data flows (whether you call it a ‘virus’, networked code, or a remediation of other platforms), the strength of this piece perhaps lies in the fact that you have to slow down, and actually pause/stop all bodily movement, in order for the work to actually function. This also gives you important time to contemplate it – as it is feeding information which you generate (as the content of the image), back to you. At first I wasn’t sure about the kitsch mirror surrounding, but I actually think its great as it is in fact a fractured, fragmented mirror surround.

    The work is also temporal, which means it ceases to be, and fades, once you leave the frame – lingering just long enough to provide a residual data trace. It actually reminds me on a Dr Who story called ‘Castrovalva’, in the early 80s (based on the Escher artwork of the same name), in which a wall tapestry displays an image from the wider world (gathered by an unknown means – perhap a prediction of the internet), which is displayed and then vanishes in very much the same way. I tried to find a screengrab of it on the web but couldn’t – it would make a good essay though.


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