Daniel Rozin Penguin Mirror

These Moving Mirrors Reveal a New Reflection of Yourself

Have you ever seen yourself in a mirror made of troll dolls, stuffed penguins, or trash? What about pom-poms or folding fans? This artist creates mechanical mirrors from the oddest of materials that help us all see ourselves in a completely new way.

Imagine walking into an art gallery to see a rather boring-looking piece—a bunch of blank panels sitting on the wall. You go to walk away when suddenly, as you step in front of the panels, they jump to life, turning and rotating to form a picture: a picture of you.

NYU Associate Arts Professor and Israeli-American artist Daniel Rozin has created a brand new kind of mirror, made up of cameras, tiny motors, and unique materials, all working together in perfect harmony to create a reflection of yourself that you’ve never seen before.

Daniel Rozin Penguin Mirror
Daniel Rozin, Penguins Mirror, 2015
Stuffed animals, tin bases, motors, custom electronics, motion sensor, computer, custom software
Dimensions variable, Edition 1 of 1, 1 AP
Courtesy of bitforms gallery, New York

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Over the history of humankind, many incredible inventions—from the wheel, to the clock, to the steam engine—have influenced leaps in progress or thinking. But have you ever considered the mirror in that class of game-changing creations?

Humans had long peered into pools of water or polished rocks to see our reflections, but it wasn’t until the invention of the modern mirror in the 15th century that we were able to truly see ourselves. 1 Today, mirrors are made of glass coated with aluminum or silver, 2 and their reflective nature shows us who we are to the rest of the world.

And yet, NYU Associate Arts Professor Daniel Rozin has created a brand new kind of mirror: one made up of tiny components, all working together in perfect harmony to create a reflection of yourself that you’ve never seen before.

Daniel’s work plays with how we see ourselves, and what we can see ourselves in: trash, wooden pegs, or even penguins.

It’s safe to say that we humans (most of us, anyway) are fairly obsessed with our reflections, checking them in hall mirrors and windows as we walk by. But Daniel’s pieces allow us to see something new!

Coming out of graduate school where he learned electronics and programming, Daniel taught himself the complex task of syncing hundreds of tiny motors and cameras or motion sensors needed to create his art. And now, working with everything from pom-poms to plastic to troll dolls, he’s created upwards of 15 mechanical mirrors—each with hundreds of individually programmed pieces. His first piece, the wooden mirror, took a full year to build!

The pieces don’t look like much if there’s nobody in front of them, but step in front and the pieces come to life.

The idea is that you can create a display by taking individual pieces and tilting them up or down, rotating them, or opening and closing them to create a stunning reflection of whatever stands in front.

So, without further ado, here’s Daniel and his thousands of motors in this video from WIRED!

Via: WIRED 3

You can find more incredible videos from WIRED by checking out their YouTube channel.

More of Daniel’s amazing creations are featured on his website and Instagram page, so head there next to see more of this mechanical magic. The #danielrozin tag on Instagram is also a great place to find thousands of posts of people interacting with his creations!

For even more, his website features not only his 15+ mechanical mirrors, but a variety of software mirrors, video paintings, glass sculptures, proxxi prints, and kinetic sculptures that he’s created—you can find them all here.

“The content of the piece is you.”

— Daniel Rozin

We so often think of art as something stagnant, a painting in a stuffy gallery of a centuries-old aristocrat that we passively walk by. But with Daniel’s work, art becomes interactive, flipping the script. No longer is art supposed to tell us something, now we tell it what to be and how to look. We become the content of the piece itself!

You are part of the art, and what makes the art beautiful is you.

Daniel Rozin, PomPom Mirror, 2015
Custom software, faux fur pom-poms, motors, control electronics, motion sensor, computer, wooden armature
48 x 48 x 18 in / 121.9 x 121.9 x 45.7 cm, Edition 1 of 6, 1 AP
Courtesy of bitforms gallery, New York

If we start to think of ourselves as a piece of the puzzle, what other insights, joys, and wonders can we unlock? The game of soccer does not exist in a vacuum—it needs you. A car can’t drive without a person—it needs you. Life doesn’t happen around us, we make it happen.

So, glean what insight you can from a mirror made of pom-poms or troll dolls: you’re in the driver’s seat.

Not only are we in charge, but we’re art in ourselves, too!

Let’s dive deeper and think of the human body as a piece of art, too. Teeth are a marvel to behold, our bones regenerate every 10 years, and even the mucus from your nose has a superhero-level job. Humans can even adapt after losing eyesight to see with echolocation—that’s incredible!

Everything can be seen as art: you, the activities you make happen, the art pieces that make you a part of the action, and beyond. Art is not static, but living in and around us.

“My pieces are very boring when there’s not a person in front of them. If you go to a gallery and it’s empty and you look at one of my pieces… it’ll be empty… [or] still. But the minute a person stands in front of it, it takes your image. And I think that maybe it takes more than your image—that maybe it’s capturing something about your soul.”

— Danny Rozin

We’ve highlighted Danny’s incredible work once before in this article from 2016: check it out to find more videos of his pieces at work.

The Bitforms Gallery Needs Us to Complete the Work!

One thing the digital world allows us to do is interact with certain kinds of art. Even if we are not “art lovers”, there is something wonderfully personal about the interface we will show you today!

Read More

Or check out these articles next for some insights about how we can see everyday materials in new ways! Enjoy the wonder that endlessly creative and innovative people like Daniel can show us.

Shattered Glass Portraits Highlight Beauty in What’s Broken

Let’s think big about the possibilities of materials we encounter every day! Playing with light, transparency, and dimension, Swiss artist Simon Berger creates stunning portraits with nothing but a pane of glass and a hammer. His work shows us that whether it’s by recycling, creating art, or just reusing, everything can be repurposed.

Read More
Obstacles Can Be Inspiration—Just Look at This Chalk Artist! 

If you’ve ever felt stuck, held back, or like you just couldn’t make sense of the task in front of you, here’s an interesting place to start: your limitations. Using your obstacles for inspiration is just what chalk artist David Zinn does when he needs to break through his creative block. His story proves that perhaps, your roadblocks could be just what you need to create something amazing. 

Read More

So today, let’s get creative about how we impact the art we encounter and open our minds to a method of thinking about everyday materials in limitless new ways. Even stuffed penguins, troll dolls, and trash can prove it’s still an amazing world.

  • Ellen

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  1. Sorrel, Charlie. “How the Invention of the Mirror Changed Everything.” Fast Company, Fast Company, 15 Nov. 2016, www.fastcompany.com/3065643/how-the-invention-of-the-mirror-changed-everything. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.
  2. “Mirror | Optics | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2021, www.britannica.com/technology/mirror-optics. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.
  3. WIRED. “How This Guy Makes Amazing Mechanical Mirrors | Obsessed | WIRED.” YouTube, 18 June 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV8v2GKC8WA. Accessed 8 Apr. 2021.
Published: May 19, 2021

Image: Ellen Allerton

Ellen Allerton

Chief Operating Officer

After graduating from St. Lawrence University in 2020 and returning home to Vermont, Ellen found that helping make the world a better place with the Goodness Exchange team was just where she wanted to be. You can usually find her watching television while getting crafty, on the ice as a figure skating coach for 10-14 year old's, or in her inflatable kayak named Heidi. She's quite the film nerd and quite the cook, and likes it best when those two things - movies and food - coincide.

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