Liquid Views – Narcissus' Virtual Mirror1993/2008 / Interactive User Installation
Monika Fleischmann und Wolfgang Strauss
Liquid Views is a simulation of artifical water in which the viewer’s reflection is portrayed as in real water. A finger tip on the touch-sensitive screen releases waves and causes the self-portrait to dissolve. The interactive installation translates the parable of Ovid’s Narcissus in a visual and intellectual reflection of the relation of image and effigy. A horizontal screen shows the simulation of a blue shimmering water surface on which the viewers see their own reflection. The artificial nature is steered by artificial intelligence. Accompanied by dripping and gurgling sounds the realistic appearance of simulated water draws the observer to touch the screen so that the image blurs. The more demanding the touch, the more the reflexion disappears. If the waves calm down, the virtual reflexion seems untouched.
A projection in the background offers the visitor a second perspective in which a magnifying mirror reflects the viewers gaze. Strongly enlarged, the virtually reflected face looks into the space and onto the next spectators. Thus, the introverted look at one's self is diverted into a look on the others. Therefore, in a sense, the viewer and the spectator seem both to become the observed. The mirror screen can be understood as an interface that connects the real with the virtual world.
Liquid Views tells a story about self-reflection, about ubiquitous surveillance and performative presence. The visitors are the main actors as they literally leave their impressions as pictures stored on the artwork’s disc. Different to a painting as an instance of representation, interactive artworks are virtual machines which themselves produce instances of representation based on real time inputs. Interactivity is here the key to make the invisible moment of perception and cognition visible. One can describe the process of the exposure to interactive installations as thought in action and action in thought.
Monika Fleischmann (born 1950) is a German research artist and scientist. Since 1997 she has been the Head of Media Arts & Research Studies, the MARS – Exploratory Media Lab at the Fraunhofer IAIS Institute in Sankt Augustin, Germany. She combines conceptual and theoretical research with crossdisciplinary experience. Her main interest is to extend the concept of interaction and communication on the basis of perceptive processes.
Wolfgang Strauss (born 1951) is a German architect, media artist and scientist. He studied architecture at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and has been head of the MARS - Exploratory Media Lab's R&D Department since 1997 for interactive and mixed-reality environments. He creates real buildings as well as electronic architecture, knowledge spaces and digital archives.
Both are co-founder of Art+Com in 1987 and winner of the 1992 Goldene Nica of Ars Electronica for interactive art.
© Monika Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss
© Photos: Monika Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss
Monika Fleischmann/Wolfgang Strauss, Liquid views – Narcissus' Virtual Mirror, 1993/2008, Interactive User Installation, Touchscreen 30", PC Dual DVI, Webcam, Audiosystem, loaned by the artists and Mars-Exploratory Media Lab Fraunhofer Institut IAIS