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'Mirrorbox' Exhibit Melds Faces in TriBeCa

Mirrorbox, at Jack Hanley Gallery this week, melds two people's features together.
Mirrorbox, at Jack Hanley Gallery this week, melds two people's features together.
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TRIBECA — This gives new meaning to mind meld.

A new virtual reality Tribeca art exhibit allows participants to step inside someone else's skin, move the muscles of their face but watching the other person's face move instead.

Conceived by multimedia artist Megan May Daalder, "Mirrorbox," which is is coming to TriBeCa's Jack Hanley Gallery Thursday evening and all day Friday, consists of a double-sided helmet that two people step into at once.

A screen in the middle of the helmet shows a composite image of the two faces, moving in real time.

"It's like a science experiment," said Kara Kazanoff, a gallery assistant at Jack Hanley Gallery. "Everybody wants to come because they're curious."

Unlike a single Photoshopped image combining two people's features, Mirrorbox allows participants to interact with the melded face in real time, an experience that can be unsettling but can also create an uplifting sense of connection between the two people, Kazanoff said.  Most pairs stay inside the helmet for two to four minutes.

Mirrorbox won best in show at Poland's 14th WRO Media Arts Biennale last year and has also sparked the attention of psychological researchers. Scientists at the University of Southern California's Brain and Creativity Institute are currently testing whether the mirror face meld could ease cultural conflicts.

Kazanoff advises those who want to try Mirrorbox this week to bring a friend.

"It's better to do it with someone you know," she said. "You can do it with a stranger, but it can be uncomfortable."

Mirrorbox is on display at Jack Hanley Gallery, 136 Watts St., from 6 to 9 p.m. July 12 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 13.