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Mixed reality installation in Sofia by the Oscar-nominated animation director was an astounding success.

Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump and more politicians are not only the objects, but the subjects of the new, immersive reality installation by Theodore Ushev In the Mirror, dimly, which opened at Sofia City Art Gallery (Sofia, Bulgaria).

Using the AnimVR software by the Danish NVRMIND, the director of Tower Bawher and Blind Vaysha blends religious and political hypocricy with state-of-the-art viewing machinery. Immersive reality here is used both as a flashlight and an investigative tool which reflects but never readily reveals our deep-seated, flawed certainties.

The exhibition consists of huge paintings on thermal safety rescue blankets, 3  animation videos, objects, cocoons with mixed reality headset with VR  drawn animations. All the animation is done of the blankets as well, with invisible drawings to the naked eye but using UV visible ink - can only see it with UV lightning - Theo Ushev

Already with more than 1,000 attendants at the exhibition opening (20 Feb), it seems that Ushev has struck a chord with our fragile political and personal self -this time, in immersive reality.

Talking to Zippy Frames, Ushev confessed that the attention given to the exhibition was unprecedented for an animation artist: It  really doesn't often happen with animation artist to have such an impact in a society and the news.

Here's some photos from the opening ceremony to prove it (all photos by: Emil L. Georgiev and Mariana Marinova)



Official exhibition description:
 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” /1 Corinthians, 13.

The conceptual core, around which the message of Ushev has been built, is a protest against the personal, political and religious hypocrisy and falseness. It is a connecting theme in the images on top of the rescuing thermal mirrors, out of which the objects have been formed into an interactive immersive installation. The gesture-controlled drawings make a transition from the imaginary “narthex” into the symbolic “naos” of the author’s thought trajectory. Right there, as he stumbles on the cylindrical cocoons with the reflective walls, the visitor finds himself alone, surrounded by a procession of imaginary creatures and demons. In the darkly mirror, even the slightest movement changes its visual imagery, which makes every experience natural and unique, and every viewer – an active part of the installation. In the “altar” of the installation all drawings come to life in a visual game of frames of moving figures. The animation with virtual and mixed reality immerses you into the fantasies of Ushev completely. By exploring the themes of vanity, lies and salvation as an individual and social act, the author “inscribes” his paintings with hidden messages, visible only with the assistance of ultraviolet light. By paraphrasing and referencing parts of the sacred texts Ecclesiastes and Corinthians, “Through A Dark Glass” represents a reasoning on the meaning and lack of meaning of the life beyond the seeming. The voices used inside belong to politicians Angela Merkel, Boyko Borisov, Vladimir Putin, Volen Siderov, Donald Trump, Kornelia Ninova.

The exhibition In the Mirror, dimly by Theodore Ushev is produced and organized by Desislava Bineva (programming: Milan Grazetsky, Dario Seyb), and will be on display till 11 March 2018 at the Sofia City Art Gallery, Bulgaria.

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