Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld with Zeller & Moye: Mine Mirror

Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld with Zeller & Moye: Mine Mirror

New Mexico State University Art Museum

October 19, 2020
Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld with Zeller & Moye
Mine Mirror
Art in public places programm
October 1, 2020–April 1, 2025
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New Mexico State University Art Museum
1308 E. University Ave.
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003
United States

This year the art in public places project Mine Mirror by Sarah Ancelle Schönfeld and Zeller & Moye was officially inaugurated in New Mexico, USA. The concept was conceived in close cooperation between Schönfeld, whose artistic practice consistently oscillates between art, science, and the spiritual, and the architecture studio Zeller & Moye, which explores experimental and interdisciplinary approaches between Berlin and Mexico City.

The site- specific installation Mine Mirror at the Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center of the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces consists of two parts: a three-dimensional arrangement of 107 mirrors in screen format and a text wall.

With Mine Mirror Schönfeld and Zeller & Moye refer to the environment of the university. While addressing central questions of knowledge production and education, they focus on the means and agents of contemporary knowledge transfer: computers, storage media, the Internet and, finally, the students. Within this conceptual frame, the processual and collective emergence of a body of knowledge becomes the starting point: students from all departments were invited to submit documents via the project homepage. The resulting digital archive of more than 3000 files was transformed and translated into analog forms by Schönfeld and Zeller & Moye. Their site-specific installations reveal the poker face of the digital: While they render the knowledge collection accessible for everyone, the content of the files becomes unreadable. In the entrance hall of the building, 110 lines—running over the entire length of the wall—list the file names of the submitted documents. On 200 square meters, students and visitors can browse with their eyes and ultimately grasp: Even a computer does not guarantee objectivity. The documents appear standardized as DOC, PDF or JPG. However, they indicate individual classification systems and, in this sense, still bear the personal signature of their authors.

The second part of the installation points out another aspect of the document’s Janus-faced character: Digital data is accessible and encrypted at the same time. The files can be exchanged almost in real time across the globe, while corresponding media—certain hardware and software—is required to decode them. In this sense, the installation in the Computer Lab of the Undergraduate Learning Center reveals the character of data collections and screens which is constantly oscillating between transparency and opacity. An installation consisting of 107 rectangular mirrors hanged on the wall in various angles are mounted on one of the front sides of the lab. The work relates to the architectural environment both in form and content. As an abstract data cloud it floats above the rows of computer workstations with its individual elements echoing the dimensions of the screens. Three different mirror sizes refer to common screen formats. But in this setting, the cloud becomes an anti-archive: Schönfeld and Zeller & Moye stored the digital archive generated by the students on about 100 hard drives. By a recycling process, common in the context of “urban mining”, the actual storage medium—namely the metal contained in the hard disks—was extracted and evaporated as a wafer-thin layer onto polycarbonate sheets. Throughout the transformation process, the data remained conceptually preserved, but it became unreadable. The information provided by Mine Mirror is thus limited to the reflections of the space. And precisely herein an effective impact can be found—not only from an architectural, but also from a socio- and media-theoretical point of view: the mirrors aligned at different angles do not reflect one’s own location, but another fragment of the room. The image in the mirror, thus, reminds of the social structures also existing offline. Beyond the virtual worlds accessible through screens, the installation provides a prospect of the here and now.

Text: Lydia Korndörfer

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New Mexico State University Art Museum
October 19, 2020

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