In The Mirror, Dimly:
In spite of the fact that Theodore Ushev is most famous for his animated films, he is a very versatile artist who has worked on a huge number of innovative and diverse art projects. One of these projects was his art installation called “In the Mirror, Dimly” which took place in Sofia, Bulgaria back in 2018. People had the unforgettable opportunity to visit the installation from the 20th of February until the 11th of March.
The installation itself was something very innovative for the audience in Bulgaria because it was the first interactive exhibition curated in the country. Theodore played around by using a variety of media by combining elements of VR, mixed reality devices, video animation art and site drawings with invisible ink.
Here is where the power of using VR comes to its full potential, to be able to immerse a person in the world of an artist by isolating him/her from the “real” surroundings, by turning something personal into something shared and vice versa (something that Marshall McLuhan managed to foresee years ago).
People had to go inside huge thermal emergency blankets “Myler” that were entwined in the form of cocoon where they had to look for site drawings with invisible ink, viewed only with the help of UV lighting.
Inside these cocoons people could experience the power of the mixed reality device which was very similar to time travelling – and of course, the experience completely depended on each person and the main thing they wanted to find inside this cocoon. When putting the headphones on, people could hear the voices of different politicians, for example, Angela Merkel, Boyko Borisov and others. However, the recordings were played in reverse and people could not understand what was being said. And once again Theodore wanted to show us how even in our daily lives whenever we listen to someone talking, we do not listen carefully, and we do not hear the important information that we have to.
However, you might be wondering: “But why in the mirror, dimly? Where does the idea for the name of the event come from?”. According to Theodore in one Bulgarian interview, he says he decided to give this name to the event mainly because he noticed that most people see the reality like they would see themselves in a dark mirror – a mirror which shows all of our bad sides, everything ugly and uncanny about ourselves which we in turn reflect in real life and this is how our reality becomes one dark mirror of our perception, the way we see ourselves is the way we see our surroundings.
The project’s main idea was to provoke, make the audience look for the hidden meaning, think outside the box, give the people a different perspective that is out of the ordinary, make them face the thing they fear the most – the other, something that is different from the usual, and most importantly, face their fears both as individuals and as a collective because this is the only way to find the truth.
Sofia City Art Gallery (2018). Като в тъмно огледало на Теодор Ушев/ In the Mirror, Dimli by Teodor Ushev. 20th March. Youtube. [Online video]. Available at: Като в тъмно огледало на Теодор Ушев/ In the Mirror, Dimli by Teodor Ushev – YouTube. [Accessed: 18 November 2021].
Todorov, S., 2018. The Reality According to Theodore Ushev. [Online] Capital. Available at: Реалността според Теодор Ушев (capital.bg).[Accessed: 18 November 2021].