We jokingly dubbed this dome the “selfie dome, “ but it was completely in line with the issues this dome was supposed to address. The point of the dome was to look at yourself, and think about what you see.
We look at ourselves a lot. More than any culture in the world has before this point in history. There are mirrors in several places in almost every house. There are thousands of photos of ourselves. “Selfie” is a brand new word in the english language. There is so much documented visual content about so many of the people alive today, that it is impossible that you could ever seen every single photograph ever taken of even your closest friends.
But in this culture that’s obsessed with our own self image, how often is it that we actually look at ourselves and contemplate what’s really there? Our essence. We may stand at a mirror and think about our skin, hair, or outfit, but how often do we try to see what’s beneath those things?
The purpose of the Chamber of Reflection was to try and start a dialogue about who we are as people, and what we think about when we look at ourselves.
In the dome were several hanging sheets of mylar. Unlike the mirrors we are used to today, the mylar sheeting warped and changed whatever it was reflecting. Instead of seeing a reflection of yourself that you’re used to seeing, the image of yourself was distorted.
Arguably, every image you ever see of yourself is distorted. Mirrors reflect your image backwards, photos make your image 2D. There is actually no way that we can ever see ourselves clearly because we are inside our own bodies. The mylar did a great job of accentuating that, and reminding the participants that everything we see about ourselves is warped.
As the participants looked at themselves in a misshapen fashion, they were asked to take more mylar and write or drawn what they saw in themselves. These strips of mylar were then added to the dome, adding more and more layers of reflective surface.
As well as adding to the reflection of the dome, these new strips of mylar began to create a collective snapshot into what people were seeing in themselves. The individual identity started to merge into a collective identity, as themes about personal competence, body issues, and community value began to materialize. It was beautiful to be able to see universal struggles and human capabilities come forth in people’s reflections.
Sometimes all it takes is for art to create a moment of pause where people can think about what they see and feel. Just by creating a space where people were asked to contemplate their own essence, this dome made a beautiful space of shared identity and collective experience.