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Friday 17 June 2022

Mirror Shape Play – Exploring the Science Behind the Exhibition

Throughout the summer, Mirror Shape Play will change how you see the world around you. The interactive exhibition, created by Unit Lab, combines visual arts and science to create an unconventional playground where families can explore, experiment, and imagine together. The exhibition will open on the 24 June until to the 11 September and is open to all families.  

We caught up with Mike and Cindy, the duo behind Unit Lab, to find out more about the science behind their exhibition.  

Your work combines science and art. Can you tell us about the science that inspired this exhibition?

We first came across anamorphic art when visiting the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. They have a great collection of toys from different periods in history including anamorphic toys, which consist of warped images that look “normal” in a curved mirror. In the beginning we were drawing the objects by hand, which we still do in workshops with the public. All the forms for Mirror Shape Play are created with 3D drawing tools which can predict the mirror image for us.

What sparked your love of science? Were you interested in science and school or was this something that developed later in life?

Mike: When I was around 7, I went to a robot making workshop whilst visiting the UK. Where I come from, in Greece, science was very theory based and I hadn’t managed to connect with it. Programming the robots and seeing them do the actions I intended them to do was like magic. It was so hands on and immediate! Ever since, I always search for tangible ways of understanding science and the natural world. 

You work is also influenced by the science of play. Which particular ideas and theories are behind this exhibition?

We are very interested in the idea of open-ended play, the ability to just play without a set beginning and end. It’s a skill that often gets lost when we grow older. We are interested in the difference between game and play, where the goal is the shared excitement of learning and discovery instead of winning or losing. 

Why do you think that is important for science to be accessible and engaging to all?

Cindy: One of my favourite subjects in school was physics, but I never managed to live up to the standards of my teacher. When asking about how I could improve my grade, the teacher replied that I already had a very good grade for a girl. Making science fun and engaging and sharing our love for it with young people is very much at the heart of our practice and a great motivation.  

Mirror Shape Play is designed for 3-8 year olds, though younger and older children are welcome. Click here to find out more about the exhibition: The Exhibition.