Taking cars’ side-view mirrors to a conceptual and environmentally-conscious level, Aleph is an intriguing art installation that is both visually arresting and thought-provoking. Created for the purpose of spatial analysis, Aleph certainly has an innovative aura of environmental creativity, employing technologies that literally change our perception of the world around us. Created by Adam Somlai-Fischer and Bengt Sjolen, Aleph is a public display commissioned for the UK Belsay Hall Contemporary Arts Program and is on display in the UK until September 2007.
Aleph consists of a matrix of car side mirrors (reclaimed factory replicas of an 1980s French model) each controlled by a network of micro-controllers. Using the spaces, people & objects it faces as a “palette” to display messages from hidden viewpoints, the vertical structure reveals an animated pixel-like graphic that reflects its surrounding environment. These pixel-like results are each captured by a series of cameras.
The name comes from a literary reference: “Aleph is a point in space that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion.” – Jorge Luis Borges
Using sunlight to display the installation’s information illustrates the eco-friendly nature of the Aleph project; removing it from the LED world of contemporary art installation. Project creator Adam Somlai-Fischer explains:
‘The ecological element of the piece, is that it is using sunlight to display information, instead of strong LED’s used by many outdoor daylight displays. Despite the goal not being efficiency, the phenomenon used could be easily developed in that direction.’
The biggest challenge for the Aleph team was developing the mecha-tronics for positioning the mirrors with precision and speed at a low cost. Several technologies were evaluated, such as voice coil actuators consisting of a wire loop and a permanent magnet, though solenoids were chosen as the most effective way to move the mirrors.
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