Aluminized mylar is interesting stuff. Widely used for decorative purposes and food packaging, it is a polymer film coated with a thin layer of aluminium. The metallic helium filled novelty balloons given as gifts are made of aluminized mylar and often called mylar balloons commercially. It is also used as an insulating material and to confine gas in detectors and targets in nuclear physics.
On a visual level, the reflection from aluminized mylar resembles a fun house mirror and has entertained artists for decades. Andy Warhol covered the walls of his Factory with it, and one of Jeff Koons’ 12 foot high stainless steel sculptures resembling an aluminized mylar balloon dog sold in 2013 for over 58 million dollars, the highest price ever paid for work by a living artist.
One of my favorite things to do is to project images onto aluminized mylar so it can reflect on a wall or screen. The results are strangely organic and resemble the fibers of fabric or cells of muscle stretching in three dimensional space. Originally, a slide projector was used to project the images, but I recently tried using a computer projector and camera configured to capture images as shown in the adjacent diagram. The results are very different from imagery created using warping filters in software such as Photoshop.
By projecting a moving picture onto the aluminized mylar, an enormous number of forms and shapes can be continuously created and captured. In the gallery below, I present a selection of some of the most evocative and original.