As part of the research process the artists, researchers and community groups collaborated to create a series of explorations to understand what is interesting about interactive mirrors and how they might be used as part of the Invisible project. Each of the explorations are described below.
Exploration 1: During the workshops at Primary Studios in Nottingham we photographed the corridor (with a chair standing at its end) from the perspective of a person standing behind the mirror looking down the corridor. The chair was then removed from the corridor. The ‘before’ image then appeared on the screen behind the mirror, overlaid with the reflection of the person standing in front of the mirror.
Exploration 2: The next experiment involved transforming the reflection of the participant’s body. We made animal heads from clay. A clay pigeon head was photographed and appeared on the screen overlaid on the reflection of the participant’s head. This was tracked by the Kinect sensor as the participant moved. Each of the participants made their own clay heads to fit within the narratives they developed in the workshops. In each case the animal head appeared in front of the reflection.
Exploration 3: The mirror was then adapted, attaching the mirror to a wooden frame and moving it away from the screen. This added a type of 3D effect extending the ‘mirror space’ behind the mirror to include a space (seen through the mirror) between the mirror plane and the screen. This was tested with an image of a large round stone on a black background – that appeared on the screen behind the mirror.
Exploration 4: The participants were then invited to test the stories they had devised and feedback their ideas. One of the participants brought a mask along as a prop to compliment his narrative experience.
Exploration 5: We then built a mirror built into a vintage suitcase designed to be used as a prop within a game or theatrical experience, which could intervene in different environments, encouraging people to get closer and more intimate with the mirror.
Exploration 6: The suitcase contained one interactive (semi-transparent) mirror and the other a normal fully silvered mirror. Opening the suitcase created two mirrored surfaces that could be moved from a flat surface (both halves of the suitcase fully opened), to a variety of angles.
Exploration 7: The mirror in a suitcase was first tested in a wood, exploring how the interactive mirror would work outdoors, reflecting different angles (sky, leaves on the floor, trees) as well as the participants in the environment.
Exploration 9: The team then built the Mirror Frame to be in a fixed location, reflecting the architecture and environment as part of an immersive experience, that also allowed more than a couple of participants to interact at any one time. The Mirror Frame was made up of 5 mirrors in the shape of a cross. The centre mirror was the interactive one, combining a semi-transparent mirror and screen. The display was fixed at a distance behind the screen and participants were able to move backwards and forwards in front of the mirror.
Exploration 10: We then added a large digital screen behind the participant (in front of the mirror), to control what would be reflected as background.
Exploration 11: Back in the lab we placed multiple objects next to people so that they would appear next to their reflections, replicating a sense of this merging of realities within the mirror space.