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Optical illusions: House of Mirrors

Jan 27, 2017
  • Article by Aleesha Callahan

The simplest solutions often have the biggest impact. That is certainly the case for Christian Wagstaff and Keith Courtney’s House of Mirrors installation that has been travelling around the country in true carnival style.

“The design is based on an equilateral triangle with all mirrors angled in changing directions, reflecting hundreds of mirrors in a kaleidoscopic effect,” explains Wagstaff on the geometry behind the design.

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Eschewing high tech solutions and digital trickery, the space brings together three core materials to create a mind-blowing sensory experience. Constructed out of timber flooring, rusted steel framework and high-quality silver glass mirrors, the House of Mirrors is an analogue optical illusion.

“It was really important that we use a high-quality glass for the mirrors to ensure that the illusion had the greatest effect. We did look at using acrylic and other more cost-effective options, but it changed the impact of the prisms and the overall effect,” reveals Wagstaff.

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Another key element in the design is the lack of ceiling. The maze is open-air, a feature that has given the installation a completely different feeling in each city it’s been constructed in.

The House of Mirrors “takes on the weather around it, from the cold, misty setting of Hobart to the skyscrapers and blue skies of Sydney. Even seeing the transitions between day and night has a magical effect, changing the space inside as the mirrors reflect the surroundings,” says Wagstaff.

Initially designed for MONA’s Dark Mofo festival, the House of Mirrors has now travelled to three of Australia’s capital cities – Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney – with others already booked in and interest from overseas.

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How long does the maze take to build? It is getting quicker every time, initially needing 10 days for installation, it took a mere four days when going up in Sydney’s Hyde Park North for Sydney Festival.

House of Mirrors will be shown as part of the 2017 Adelaide Festival in Elder Park’s Parc Palais.

House of Mirrors was open as part of Sydney Festival until Sunday 29 January 2017.

Photography by Prudence Upton.

Chee chair from SP01

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22 Feb 17 at 5:31 PM • John Ross

“40 tonnes of steel and fifteen tonnes of mirrored glass”
Their ‘creativity’ didn’t consider the environment, did it?

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