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Installation in several public places Kosice, Slovakia, 2012

Material: 2 sets of mirror steel panels 24 m2 each, 2 monitors, 2 computers with skype transmissions, 2 webcams

MIRAGE* is a project in the public space of Kosice. It is about contrasts and simultaneity of life in the city. The basic idea of the project MIRAGE is to connect different parts of the city with the concept of mirroring, swapping or flipping their realities in order to experience the city as one organism.
The outskirts of Kosice with their huge panel block areas and the historical city center are visually and socially extremely different areas. The panel block areas belong to the people that live there. Their unremarkable existences seem to be totally disconnected by the cultural, touristical and commercial flow in the historical center. Yet these two parallel worlds in a paradox way belong to each another like two sides of a coin. These antipodes are characteristic for the identity of Kosice.


* Definition of mirage:
A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects on the ground or in the sky. In contrast to a hallucination, a mirage is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer's location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind. For example, inferior images on land are very easily mistaken for the reflections from a small body of water (highway mirage). Mirages can be categorized as 'inferior' (meaning lower), 'superior' (meaning higher) and 'Fata Morgana', one kind of superior mirage consisting of a series of unusually elaborate, vertically-stacked images, which form one rapidly-changing mirage. (Source: Wikipedia)

The concept for the project MIRAGE follows the three levels of the optical phenomenon of a mirage *:

1. Inferior Mirage = showing a simple reflection of real place on the ground ('highway mirage')
2. Superior Mirage = reflecting a real place that you can't see directly with your eyes ('sky mirage')
3. Fata Morgana = showing distorted or melted images of reality

1. 'Inferior Mirage': During the first phase of the project in different panel block areas identical settings with mirrors were placed. The mirror panels were displayed like a carpet on the ground, reflecting what was happening on the spot. They were interrupting for a short while the everyday-life situations. Passersby were asked to cross the mirrors. The moment of crossing became for the people a surprise of being uplifted from their routine. The mirrors worked as a medium that turns the locations into spheres of special awareness and attention. Because of their identical size they generalize the situations and bring them to an abstract level of comparability.
The actions took place on 17th and 18th of August in residential areas near shops, market, playground and and a bus stop in the parts of Sidlisko Tahanovce, Dargovskych Hrdinov (Furca) and Juh. They were documented with video and photography.

2. 'Superior Mirage': From 24th until 28th August, in a second phase of the project, two identical installations are presented at the same time in two locations. One is placed in the middle of the touristic center Stare Mesto between Urbanova tower and Elisabeth dome. The second is placed in a little medical center in the area Zapad that is also a social meeting point for the local inhabitants with some shops and pubs. Each setting consists of a surface of mirror panels of 24 m2 and a video-installation with monitor, computer and webcam that is connected with the internet. The monitors show live-images that are taken by the webcam on the respectively other location. The images are transmitted via web stream (Skype). This way the visitors and passersby can see what is going on simultaneously on the other side. The Skype images are shown upside down to reinforce the concept of mirroring. The internet as an interface works as an electronic mirror for the swapping of realities.
From time to time documentary video images from other locations are mixed with the Skype images.

3. 'Fata Morgana': The project as a whole became a portrait of the city and is dedicated to the people of Kosice. Along with the project an experimental video has been produced in cooperation with video artist Michaela Bottkova. This collage of close-ups from the reflections on the different locations are bringing the project to an abstract level. This artistic 'Fata Morgana' video was presented together with the photo documentation at the end of the whole MIRAGE project.

Concept/realization: Susken Rosenthal
Video: in cooperation with Michaela Bottkova

The project was supported by: K.A.I.R., Kosice Cultural Capital 2013, Goethe Institute Bratislva, US Steel Kosice
Special thanks to: Adela Foldynova, Michaela Bottkova, Jan Galik

The work was realized in the frame of K.A.I.R. (Kosice Artist in Residence) Cultural Capital of Europe 2013.