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Latest ‘Art in Public Places’ piece at NMSU seeking student participation

  • By Minerva Baumann
  • 575-646-7566
  • Feb 26, 2019
mirrors on wall

You might call it a wall of mirrors, you might call it a data mining operation or you could interpret it as a reflection of learning on so many different levels. The newest New Mexico “Art in Public Places” piece, to be installed at New Mexico State University’s Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center, needs data from NMSU students, faculty, staff or alumni.

It’s called “Mine Mirror.” Created by artist Sarah Schönfeld and architects Zeller & Moye, the artwork will consist of mirrors made of hard drives full of data from NMSU students who are encouraged to upload everything from thesis papers to lecture notes -- anything they learned or gained knowledge about to the recently completed website at .

Once the data drives are full, the aluminum and other alloys will be extracted in a process known as urban mining. These alloys will be transformed into mirrors with a process used for producing telescopic mirrors, and they will be installed in a large pattern on the wall in the computer lab in HJULC.

“Anyone who contributes their data to this project will have their thoughts, concepts, research and/or creations live on for perpetuity in this piece in HJULC,” said Marisa Sage, director of the University Art Gallery. “So being part of this project ensures that the legacy of their research lives on in the future of NMSU in a very creative way.”

The creators call the piece a site-specific intervention composed of three main elements: students, knowledge and the architectural environment. The proposal for “Mine Mirror” describes the final installed artwork a “multi-faceted pattern designed in a way such that computer users in the lab can see each other in panes of the three-dimensional mirror structure. The mirror landscape visualizes the participatory aspect of individuals coming together to work collectively on knowledge production. Simultaneously, users are offered a new perspective on their own activities in the form of a playful and non-digital experience.”

“Knowledge is the very base of any university,” Schönfeld said. “We are using it in an abstract yet concrete way in our wall sculpture. Firstly, we store the collected information on hard drives. After being melted and evaporated into mirrors, the data will be not readable anymore, but it will be transformed into abstract reflective surfaces that open up perspectives and will allow students on their desks to look up from their screens and to interact with them.”

Christoph Zeller of Zeller & Moye explains, “with the installation of the 110 mirrors inside the computer lab we want to create a spatial experience where the user has an expanded field of vision. Instead of two eyes, one will be able to see the surrounding through 100 eyes and make new visual connections to fellow students and into the campus’ landscape.”

Schönfeld and Zeller & Moye were commissioned for the NMSU “Mine Mirror” through New Mexico’s Art in Pubic Places legislation, which has placed art across the state in public buildings more than 32 years. The law that created the program in 1986 is often referred to as the One Percent for Art Program because it requires one percent of each capital appropriation exceeding $100,000 to fund the acquisition and installation of artwork to be placed in, on or around a new public building.

Schönfeld and Zeller & Moye expect to complete the installation in September. On Saturday, March 2 the University Art Gallery at NMSU is planning an upload of files event with students and Schönfeld joining via Skype.