Advice for the Villainess

For the past many years, I’ve been one of the people that make CONvergence happen.

I – with a varied group of friends, artists, geeks, and a lot of other fantastic volunteers- run a room called the Space Lounge. It’s a smoothie bar with music, comfy chairs and pillows, games, video, a lot of black lights and glowing stuff, and often has installations or interactive projects for con-goers to play with. The multi-channel audio project the sensorium debuted there, and over the years it’s also featured a photo booth, live experimental music and cabaret variety shows, a black light mini-golf course, 3D Twister, Space-Invader Connect Four (the pieces as big as frisbees and requiring a ladder to play), and inflatable pods to lounge in. It’s also served as a space for workshops on how to make circuit bent instruments, LED throwies, bristlebots, or anything else we think is fun. I feel lucky that we are given a lot of autonomy, it’s made the space and the event a really great experimental lab and relatively low-pressure venue for us to throw out ideas and see if they work. I believe strongly that those kinds of environments are necessary for creativity. They also tend to be really fun.

The theme of the convention this year was women in science fiction and fantasy. One of the nights we declared the lounge would be a haven for morally ambiguous or straight up villainous female characters- and set upon brainstorming projects and appropriate decor. Inspired by the Evil Queen of Snow White, we created our own interactive magic mirror to dispense villainess advice.

The final piece was a 2-way mirror mounted in front of a monitor, lit in front by a small spotlight. The light and the video clips were triggered by a motion sensor. When someone checked their reflection in the mirror, the light would switch off and a random video clip would play, revealing itself in the mirror in place of the person’s reflection. We managed to startle some people, which was a lot of fun.

A sample of the video:


This was my first project incorporating video, so it had a few new challenges for me. I wish I’d kept more documentation of the process- or the final product! It’s a surprisingly easy thing for me to forget when I’m working on something. I’ll update with photos if/when any of them surface. (If you have any, or if you have questions about what else went into making this, please drop me an email or a comment!)

I’d also like to thank everyone at CON and the Space Lounge crew, especially my primary collaborators on this project: Lauren DeSteno, Cali Mastny, and Matt Perkins.


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