Narcissus’ Well

Media Installation

“What you hope to lay hold of has no existence. Look away and what you love is nowhere. This is your own shadow.” – Narcissus Legend from Ovid’s Metamorphoses

“We dream of passing through ourselves and of finding ourselves in the beyond: the day when your holographic double will be there in space, eventually moving and talking, you will have realized your dream.” – Jean Baudrillard

The spherical mirror and the three-dimensional, upside down, reflected real image, researched at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Beltsville, MD

About Narcissus’ Well

Narcissus’ Well is an interactive multimedia installation that investigates how we are absorbed in the ephemeral, the intangible, the invisible, and the faraway – the quest for self-knowledge mediated through technology. The installation employs a configuration of concave spherical mirrors and real-time digital imaging, in which the spectator interacts with what is described optically as a “real image,” a rendering of his or her own mirror image extruded three-dimensionally into the physical space. Interaction with one’s mirror image in the installation, like that of Narcissus’ futile attempt to embrace himself in the agitated waters of the reflecting pool, leads to a spectacular audio-visual dematerialization of the viewer experience: a dissolution and immersion in water.

Narcissus’ Well was inspired by the Pepsi Pavilion, created by E.A.T. for Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan. The spherical mirror used in the Pepsi Pavilion, with its transformative optical effects producing real images, was the starting point for this project. Billy Klüver, founder of E.A.T. was the catalyst for the collaboration between optics engineer Joe Howard and myself. Created in residence at the NASA Goddard Space Center, Greenbelt MD in collaboration with Joe Howard (optics engineer), Gregory Kuhn (installation designer), and Wesley Smith (software designer). Narcissus’ Well was included in the Take Me to the River exhibition at the Witchita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University, Witchita Falls, Texas, August 17 – December 5, 2006.