The normal function of a mirror is to reflect and individual’s image back at them, but these mirrors refuse to do so. In this installation, we want the individual to focus on their surroundings and the people around them, instead of themselves.
An embedded Kinect senses where an individual is located in front of the installation and interfaces with servos to rotate the mirrors away from the individual. It’s virtually impossible to see your own reflection if you’re alone, instead seeing the room around you. If two people try to view the mirrors together, the mirrors lay flat and act as a normal reflective surface, visually connecting an individual with the people around them.
This art installation was developed as a part of the semester-long student-pitched project flux at the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center. We explored the methods of how an installation within a space can connect people.
This project was supported in part by funding form the Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier.
The casing is constructed of an 8020 aluminum frame clad with museum-grade Baltic Birch. Inside are shelves and mounting systems for the servos, PC, Arduino, and Kinect. The cutout in the main face allows for motion of the mirrors next to each other. We included window panes on either side of the installation to allow guests to see the interior workings.
The servo mounts were a particular challenge because no one on our team was a mechanical engineer (woo! learning on the job). These servo mounts connect to 110 degree servos, but since we used a 2:1 gear ratio, the mirrors themselves only rotate about 50 degrees.