These Mirrors Will Make You Question the Meaning of Humanity

Chen Chen and Kai Williams‘s new Mirror Masks for Areaware are clearly just flat slabs of industrially produced glass painted with a few simple shapes. And yet somehow they ooze emotion — that’s how strongly our brains are wired to read the feelings that lie behind facial expressions. To underscore the dichotomy, Areaware’s art director Elsa Brown hired the up-and-coming Brooklyn artist Carson Fisk-Vittori to take the mirrors to Mexico City, then shoot evocative photographs of them in various settings around town; inserted into a street stand selling potato chips, the No mirror looks poetically, achingly forlorn, while Maybe, hanging on the wall between two Mexican paper decorations, seemingly calls out to be rescued from the indignity. (Don’t worry, no mirrors were harmed in the making of this series.)

Chen and Williams actually first conceived the mirror masks as more elaborate, almost tribal designs, but ultimately pared back to the emoji-like trio below after they noticed the powerful anthropomorphizing effect. “We found it interesting that three abstract marks are instantly recognizable as a face,” says Chen, noting that their emotional resonance is only amplified when you glimpse your own reflection in them. In case you’d like to see for yourself, they’re now available for $80 each on Areaware’s site.ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask5 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask8 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask11 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask3 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask4 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask10 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask9 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask16 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask17 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask13 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask15 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask18 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask7 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask1 ChenKai_Areaware_MirrorMask12