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Video Narcissus

1987 Turin, Italy

Software: Gideon May

This installation was created specially for the exhibition Lo Specchio e II Doppio, at the Mole Antonelliana, in Turin. A video monitor faced upwards, its screen covered with a transparent container filled with water. In the centre at the bottom of this container, bubbles of air could be electronically released, causing the water surface to ripple outwards in concentric circles. A video camera captured the faces of spectators looking down at the monitor. Their video image was digitally processed in real time using a custom algorithm, and presented on the monitor screen beneath the water. An infrared sensor detected the movement of the viewer and triggered the release of a bubble of air in the water reservoir that then caused its surface to ripple. Simultaneously, the reflection of the spectator's face would appear to ripple outwards from the centre of the screen in a sequence of concentric circles that mimicked the pattern of rippling water. Because it took some seconds to construct this digital image, further movement of the spectator’s head during the digitisation process caused their reflection to gain aesthetically pleasing radial distortions. In this way spectators could influence and interact with the fleeting deformations of their own reflections.

Exhibition Record

1987/6/24 - 10/11:  Lo Specchio e II Doppio, Mole Antonelliana, Turin, Italy