A Mirror for Remembering is a new virtual reality artwork by Alex May. The artwork utilises the extensive collections held by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and has been made possible through the generous support of the Arts Council England funded Kent Medway Museums National Portfolio Organisation.

Alex’s proposal was selected from an international open-call commission. Artists were encouraged to submit proposals for the creation of a digital artwork which would enable the public to reflect upon contemporary digital techniques and current concerns regarding our increasingly digital lives.

what do we save in an age of big data, who should make these choices, and how will these choices alter perception of culture for future generations? 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube alone and daily ‘fake news’ stories are propagated mostly unchallenged throughout the media and across social media while culturally important digital artefacts and resources regularly disappear through technical failure and lack of funding and support. “A Mirror For Remembering” explores these urgent issues through the lens of challenges faced by physical museums in the age of digital artefacts.

Alex May

Artwork Technical Details

The artwork is a 3D, 360 degree video (duration 9:50) that is designed to be experienced through a Virtual Reality (VR) headset including Oculus, and Vive, or on a mobile phone supporting a stereoscopic viewer such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR.

It features a soundtrack with voice-over (currently in English only) that takes the viewer through the various scenes of the video.

The experience is designed to be a perfect introduction to virtual reality for people who have never tried it before and avoids any motion sickness or sudden changes, allowing all visitors to be fully immersed in the message of the work.

About the Artist

Alex May is a British contemporary artist whose practice forges links between art, science, and technology through a wide range of digital new media, including virtual reality, photogrammetry, algorithmic photography, robotic artworks, video projection mapping, interactive installations, generative works, performance, and video and sound art.

May has exhibited internationally including at the Francis Crick Institute (permanent collection), Eden Project (permanent collection), Tate Modern, Ars Electronica (Austria), LABoral (Spain), the Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy of Art, Wellcome Collection, Science Gallery Dublin, Princeton University, University of Calgary (international visiting artist 2016), Texas A&M University, and the Beall Center for Art + Technology, University of California, Irvine.

He has taken part in numerous talks on the theme of digital art, digital preservation, and robotics (UCLA, USC, School of Visual Arts (SVA) New York, TEDx Bucharest, Chelsea College of Art (in conversation with curator Robert Storr), Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Ahmed Shawky Museum in Cairo); runs workshops for artists using his own software (UCLA, for Fluxmedia at Concordia University in Montreal, International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in Istanbul). He is a Visiting Research Fellow: Artist in Residence with the computer science department of University of Hertfordshire.


About the National Portfolio Organisation (NPO)

The Kent Medway NPO Partnership is a consortium of four museums (The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Canterbury Museums & Galleries, Guildhall Museum Rochester and Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery) funded by Arts Council England (ACE) as a National Portfolio Organisation to work together to deliver excellence in the use of collections and to inspire learning, creativity and well-being to existing and new audiences in their communities.

‘A Mirror For Remembering’, Alex May (2020)