A Divine Mirror That Portrays People As Angels

Coining the term “bad wing day.”

Maybe you’re devoutly religious. Maybe you just operate by some vague notion of karma. But in any given day, it can be difficult to assess if one’s actions were right or wrong, selfish or selfless. Mirrors tell us nothing. Even stuck in our own heads, it can be hard to know what’s going on in there.


Ice Angel, by Dominic Harris and Cinimod Studio, is a project that tries to spot the good in all of us. It’s an interactive video screen that gives its participants wings. A piece we’ve highlighted before, Ice Angel has now been chosen as a part of the London Design Festival 2012.

At its most basic, the installation is a camera, lights, and a place to stand. Dig a little deeper, and you learn that the camera is 3-D (like a Kinect), and the lights are 6,500 white LEDs glowing ephemerally through a laser-cut steel screen and frosted acrylic. That camera actually recognizes its user. The software generates unique wings for each participant (and remembers them, should that participant ever return). And, maybe most importantly, when a participant steps up to the podium, they face the content. They see themselves as this being of blinding white light while an audience looks on.

The result is a small yet epic technological experience–one that’s extremely personal, even spiritual, regardless of devotion. It’s also a means for us to look into a mirror to experience an augmented portrait–one where we don’t scan our skin for frown lines, but rather catch a glimpse of a better person that could be lurking below the surface.

Indeed, it’s possible that we’ve all been looking at mirrors a bit too literally. In an age of connected devices and augmented reality, when facial recognition and tracking algorithms are child’s play for computers, maybe we should be seeing something that’s beyond skin deep as we brush our teeth and pluck our brows, though actual angels may be overstating our personal graces, just a bit.


About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.