Land of mirrors (2017)

This work was created as part of a graduate Live Performance Design course at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, taught by Deborah Johnson. Through this performance, we explored the continuous struggle that forms the nucleus of our psyche. Using our interpretation of Jacques Lacan’s “Register Theory”, we wanted to show a person growing from the Mirror phase to the confrontation of their own ego & the Real. The performance involves the exploration of three concepts: the Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real. Imaginary sphere includes our individual consciousness and self awareness. It is the idea of us that we carry in our conscious and subconscious minds. The Symbolic space is what we interpret things that exist outside of us. That includes our idea of others, the society, the system in which we exist and what we think our space is in this outside system. The Real is something that exists completely outside our Imaginary and Symbolic space. It’s everything that we are not aware of that still plays a hidden part in our lives.

Stage Design Sara Camnasio, Angela Wang, Mateo Hernandez

Animation & Visuals Mayukh Goswami, Mateo Hernandez

Sound Design Mateo Hernandez

Choreography Sara Camnasio, Angela Wang

Video Editing Sara Camnasio

Part A - Tyranny of Ego/Mirror Stage

Mirror stage is the separation of ‘I’ from the world. Before the advent of Mirror Stage, a child believes that it’s a part of this world and the world is a part of it. Mirror stage is the violent psychological process of tearing apart this notion. Call to adventure is the impetus - some sort of impulse that introduces the idea of separateness of self. Mirror Stage (Creation of Ego as an Object) is the story of a fall. The child may think of itself as a God. Mirror stage is its realization of its powerlessness.

Part B - Encounter with the Goddess

In this case, the nascent ego meets the nurturing mother figure. However, this mother figure is both reassuring and terrifying. The Mother, in this nascent phase of ego, transforms from a pure nurturing service provider to an omnipotent Goddess. The child becomes aware of their own weakness. The Mother is the first frame of reference that the child gets of its weakness.


The performance is on the right part of the room, in the corner. The performer begins with seemingly complete control of the visuals, since they look like they are responding to the movement. In reality, it is pre-rendered. But little by little, small elements are introduced to show that the performer is not in control. The number of such elements keeps increasing until Part B “Encounter with the Goddess” happens. Here a reversal takes place, where the dancer responds to the visual rather than the other way round.


The music is pre-made and goes with the choreography.


MIDI sync to trigger main videos between projectors
Resolume Arena Software

Part 1: Departure (0-5 min)

The performance now moves to the center of the room. Here the dialectic is a conversation, almost a fight between the Imaginary and the Symbolic space of a person. The Eye represents Gaze of the Others, the dancer is still the "you". The Ego object which is caught in this back and forth - which is not oppositional like the Id-Ego-Super Ego paradigm - is born and evolves in this segment.


The visuals are two classes of elements with sharply different visual aesthetic to represent Imaginary and Symbolic. The visuals will flow out of the eye as a way to represent the feedback loop within the Imaginary-Symbolic space.  


The music is pre-made using samples and music with Creative Commons License. The visuals FX interacts with the sound.


Reflective & textured materials, flashlight
3D Projection surface
VJ Effects live

Part 2: Initiation (5-10 min)

The third segment represents the confrontation between the Subject and the Real. It’s convenient when we stay within the bounds of our own Imaginary-Symbolic space, which is essentially our own reality. This involves breakdown of boundaries between the performer and the performance, in effect, forcing this confrontation for both the performer and the audience.


The audience is invited to use different materials and their own phone's flashlights to light the stage. They are nowaware of the fact that they are part of the performance. An acrylic cut mirror held by one of the dancers reflects light onto the audience. Projection mapping on the eye is still ongoing.


Created live by Mateo from movements in the audience.


Acrylic Mirror
Reflective materials