Theo Eshetu’s installation is an elaborate trompe l’oeil—a traditional gilded picture frame contains vivid, shifting geometric patterns that appear to be projected onto a flat screen. But as the viewer approaches, it becomes clear that there is no flat picture plane at all; rather, an open mirrored box that recedes as if into infinite space. At the far end, a monitor plays a 24-minute film that layers video clips and musical fragments from diverse contexts.
The mirror box that links the television monitor and the gilded frame is an ingenious contraption of tapered mirrors, which not only reflect the screen infinitely but also create the illusion of a monumental globe of faceted images that floats in space. The viewer can lean into this box, and is then plunged— like Alice through the looking glass—into a kaleidoscopic, multi-dimensional space of myriad echoes and iterations of his or her own image. Ultimately, in Eshetu’s words, “the viewer is reflected as the sole spectator of a cosmic spectacle…”
Anima Mundi celebrates the world’s diversity while searching for what the human soul shares. Experiments to capture an image on a cathode-ray tube, rituals and dances from multiple cultures, x-rays, animated statues—these and many other scenes evoke the shared human quest for scientific and spiritual understanding of the universe. Linking western and non-western paradigms within the shifting spectra of a theatrical mirrored box, the self meets the Other, and personal reflection collides with mediated spectacle.