mystical scrying mirror interactive electronic art
mystical scrying mirror interactive arduino art

The Scrying Mirror

This project was inspired by mythologies surrounding the viewing of magical visions in a reflective surface. We see this motif repeated in Galadriel's garden pool in The Lord of the Rings, in the "mirror, mirror on the wall" of Snow White's evil queen and also in Snow White's wishing well. Alice sees Wonderland through a mirror and The Lady of Shalott sees the world she cannot be part of as a reflection in a mirror. These fantasies both inspire us and remove us from the concept of scrying magic. It is something we cannot touch.

At night, the spirits in the mirror awaken. Visitors approach this sculpture, which is a 30" diameter 2-way "magic" mirror sitting atop a faux-finished metallic bowl and stone pillar. There are four enchanted glowing stones set into the sides of the bowl which the visitor may press to awaken magic energy inside the bowl, seen as fiber optic shimmers of color. Ripples appear on the reflection and, if the visitor is patient, they will see a random "vision" appear as their personal message. There are approximately 100 visions which are continuously replaced with new ones.

I see science and technology as forms of magic that people have learned how to harness. I wanted to show my audience that they can make magic happen by using tools that are available to non-experts, such as microcontrollers and recycled electronics.

Medium

  • Electronics
  • Arduino
  • Rubber
  • Plastic
  • Paint
  • Resin

Size

  • 30" diameter

Past Exhibits

  • Velvet Dreamscapes, performance art party, Atlanta GA
  • Alchemy, the Georgia Regional Burn
  • Private events

The Design Process

The project was originally submitted as a funded community art project for the Euphoria regional Burn in Georgia. A budget and design plans were drawn up to provide clarity to the donors.

mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art

The Testing Process

I made a miniature 12" version of the mirror to test the effects. The original incarnation of the project featured actual objects which would appear through the glass when illuminated. I later replaced the objects with projected animations. Some of the objects from that original incarnation were later animated and included in the projected visions.

This phase also included the process of learning to program LEDs and input devices for Arduino, which used an unfamiliar coding language.

mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art

The Building Process

I sourced materials from the hardware store, farm supply, automotive body shop materials, and even household supplies.

mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art

Faux finishing on the rubber and plastic surfaces involved many layers of spray paint, heat tools, caulk texturizing, silver leaf, and scouring pads.

mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art

The magic stones were made out of poured resin and attached to the outside of the bowl with embedded wires. They sit atop electronic buttons attached to an Arduino Uno. The wires gave enough space to allow them to be pressed, and their weight causes them to fall back from the button when released.

mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art

Electronics and batteries are housed in unseen black bags attached to the interior. I glued fiber optic fibers to individually addressable LEDs and attached them inside the bowl. I created a screen for the projector out of stretchy translucent fabric and a collapsable hula hoop.


The Finished Project

mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art
mystical scrying mirror interactive art

See a Sampling of Visions: