Benedict Sheehan: Magic Mirror

  • ©, Benedict Sheehan



    Magic Mirror



    40" x 20"


    Interactive art object


Artist Statement:

    Illusion is my art form. I use my technical and creative skills to produce deceptive art that challenges and interactively engages the participant creatively. I aim to present technology in innovative guises and forms, away from its usual habitat and parameters. I want to persuade the participants to interact with technology in ways that expand their own perception of art and technology, and provoke thought about the world about them.

    Using a mirror to interact with a different universe challenges our sense of normality; by lifting the participant from the usual, the Magic Mirror captivates the participants’ intellect and creativity. The butter­flies in the mirror appear to be just in front of your body, so that you can reach out and play with them. Different types of motion change the behavior of the butterflies so that the participant is encouraged to interactively engage with the image in the mirror.

    As a digital artist, I feel my challenge is to make digital art accessible. I use natural body motion to interact with technology: walking, jumping up and down, waving your arms, rolling the eyes, or twiddling your little finger. This allows even people who are techno-­shy to access technology and, therefore, technology within art.

Technical Information:

    The Magic Mirror goes beyond the normal projected digital image by merging the participant’s own reflection with computer-generated imagery. A webcam is used to capture the participant’s image, which is then processed by custom software to detect motion and intent. A difference engine detects motion, which is stored as a history so that the intent of the participant can be calculated.

    The butterflies are then projected onto a rear-projection screen within a hidden room. The graphics environment OpenGL has been programmed to render the butterflies.

    The viewer looks into a two-way mirror mounted on a false wall of the hidden room, where they see their own reflection, and, because of a hole behind the mirror, they also see the computer-generated imagery on the screen. The distance of the screen from the mirror controls the reflected appearance of the sprites. The butterflies can appear to be just in front of the participants, encouraging them to reach out with their hands (or other body parts).

    A high-power data projector is used, as the nature of a two-way mirror inhibits half the light intensity from both the reflected image and the projected image.

All Works by the Artist(s) in This Archive: