Site See: New Views in Old Town Exhibition Series

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Site See: New Views in Old Town Exhibition Series

Client: City of Alexandria Office of the Arts

Location: Waterfront Park, Alexandria, VA

Selected Artists: SOFTlab (2019); Olalekan Jeyifous (2020)

Pictured Above: Mirror Mirror by SOFTlab, 2019. Photos by Alan Tansey.


The City of Alexandria’s expanded Waterfront Park combines existing park sites with space formerly occupied by a building and parking lot to create a seamless transition between Old Town’s historic retail corridor and the Potomac River. This new public space was designed to be the keystone in Alexandria’s transformation of its waterfront, and temporary public art was envisioned to play a key role in activating the area as an arts and cultural destination.

To help achieve this vision, Via Partnership worked with Alexandria’s Office of the Arts to conceive and manage Site See: New Views in Old Town — an annual series of original temporary public art installations that bring residents and visitors to Waterfront Park to interact with site-specific contemporary art in a historic location. Via worked with a stakeholder Task Force to select the first artist for the series, SOFTlab – a New York-based design studio led by Michael Szivos. Via continued to work with the Office of the Arts and SOFTlab to help manage design, fabrication, and installation for Mirror Mirror – an interactive artwork installed in March 2019 that has proven to be extremely popular, garnering attention in the media and on social media.

Inspired by the historic Fresnel lens at Alexandria’s Jones Point Lighthouse, Mirror Mirror plays with the ideas of reflection and refraction of light. Its interior and exterior are clad with a mirrored surface that reflects the surrounding environment in unexpected ways. While the exterior is a monochromatic mirror that reflects the urban environment, the river and visitors themselves, the interior’s mirrored surface is tinted with the full color spectrum, providing another layer of vibrancy and interest. The artwork is also programmed to respond to sound with light, allowing visitors to interact with the artwork and affect its appearance using their voices and bodies. LED fixtures inside each of the artwork’s vertical components are activated by sound and respond by producing light, transforming the front-facing panels from mirrored to transparent, while the interior panels remain mirrored, creating an infinite, colorful reflection that Szivos compares to “a forest of light.” Mirror Mirror will be on display until November 2019.

Via also worked with the Task Force to select the second artist for the series – Olalekan Jeyifous – and will continue to work with the City as his design develops. Jeyifous will begin his design process in summer 2019 and create an artwork that will be installed in March 2020.

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