Mirror Masks were designed to reflect the “other.” As research has shown that humans reflect each other with micro-momentary facial movements. I thought it would be interesting to bypass that process and show the “other” how they appear directly by looking into the mirror of self. This is an empathy machine as it shows you others, and the qualities of reflection allow you to see others through self. The pieces place your face on the other, and there is a collapse of the self and a simultaneous focus on self in the interplay of the two wearing the masks.
I am interested in the fusiform gyrus in the human brain. In particular, I felt this work would get those brain areas to light up. As humans, we always wear masks and often create and mutage our personas to accommodate the social spaces we float through.
These masks allow us to remove those personas and instead become like octopi, blending in by hiding behind the mask and showing a sharp contrast between what we know or believe we are and what others see in the masks, which are often themselves. These masks allow you to capture otherness in reflected gaze.
As I was working with these masks, I also found they were excellent at reflecting our surroundings and showing the things we are interested in, and they became a kind of texture for concern and interest.
I was invited to show these works at Glass Axis as part of the Glassquerade curated by Kami Westhoff and created 11 custom mirror masks for the glass club at The Ohio State University. I took individual measures of each participant, so they were custom fit to each glassblower.
I feel an extraordinary resonance between the highly reflective states of the masks and the complex transparency and refractive qualities of glass.
Ken Rinaldo at Glass Axis Glassquarade.
Amy Youngs wears Mirror Mask and looks at a woman.
As I watched the use of these masks for the evening at the Glass Axis, I observed that the works seem to have a strange disarming effect and somehow push face-to-face communication, which can often be fraught with self-conscious feedback loops and allow it to emerge into a level of play and fun.
Appearances are only mask deep.
Some of the masks were photographed in environments where staff worked to reflect what they see and think about each day.
Glass Axis Glassquarade, Columbus, Ohio, 2013
Mirror Masks by Ken Rinaldo invited and curated by Kami Westhoff
ANDERSON GALLERY, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, November 13, 2015.
Mirror Masks in Creating Public Space: The Art and Politics of the Here and Now. Curated and invited by Lenore Metrick-Chen
Design and construction: Ken Rinaldo
Laser-cut reflective plastic with illustrator files custom fit to each face. Measured the eye centers, nose, and mouth distances.
This work can be displayed in a slightly darkened room with a place on the wall or hanging in free space as in the animation above.
Performance, interactive, fusiform gyrus,