Mirrors and light. You don’t need much more to create the perfect illusion. In the Californian desert, close to Joshua Tree National Park, artist Phillip K. Smith applied mirrors and LED lights to the boards, windows and doors of an old wooden house. When the sun had set and the warmth of the day lingered on the ground, the hut appeared almost like a mirage in the horizon. There are great photographs of the artwork to be found on the Internet.
Mirrors and light, it’s really that simple. That’s what French artist Jacques Rival thought when he spotted a wind spinner – a hanging mobile of concentric circles that turn independently of each other – when walking past a gift shop in Amsterdam. Stare at it long enough and your eyes start to spin and tear up, just as they do when looking at paintings and sculptures by artists from the 1960s, who would apply optical illusions in their work.
Mirrorings, a blown-up version of the wind spinner that Rival used as a reference, now hangs in front of Hotel de l’Europe. At the point where the water of the Amstel River reflects the lights of the Munt Tower and its surroundings, the large, hypnotizing and rotating circles reflect Amsterdam’s cityscape. It reminds us of the LED-lit desert hut in the Californian desert. In contrast to the harsh neon billboards and the piercing beams of car headlights, light art in the urban environment can be ideal for exploring areas where the ordinary dissolves into a magical dream, says Rival. That’s where we find Mirrorings.