Sigma Xi Publications



American Scientist

Mirror Image: How the mind reflects reality

In her widely touring installations of infinity mirror rooms, the artist Yayoi Kusama uses colored lights and multiple reflective surfaces to create both intricate repetitive patterns and optical illusions that immerse the visitor. A central tool in her artwork, the mirror, is a simple optical device that just reflects the light that hits it. However, what humans see in the mirror—of themselves, their fellow humans, or the world around them—is more complicated, and the final outcome is a product of neuroscience, body morphology, habitual expectations, and circumstances. As Michael C. Corballis explains in “What Mirrors Do” (pages 224–231), the perennial question we ask is why mirrors reverse left and right, but the answer is that they really don’t, we just see it that way because of our viewpoint. (Photograph of Yayoi Kusama installation “Gleaming Lights of the Soul” by Colin McPherson.)

July–August 2019

Sigma Xi Publications