Mirror for Larks

The selected object is a lark mirror, an early modern hunting device used to lure and trap small birds attracted to shiny things.

With a revolving blade and spring-loaded back mechanism or spindle and cord, the device is covered in small mirrors that create a bright, hypnotic flickering effect. Known to take its shape in the 17th century, the instrument combines effective design with an entirely sculptural form.

The mechanical lark mirror was once widely used by hunters to attract skylarks, a variety of passerine birds known for their melodious song. Lured to reflective surfaces, the larks would approach the hunter’s instrument which mimicked pools of water. Deceived, the caught birds would fall into his prepared net.

In the Italian language, as in French, the expression “Specchietto per le allodole” (mirror for larks) is used as a metaphor for illusion, indicating attitudes, actions and behaviours that have the ability to trick, bait and deceive gullible people. In the collective consciousness the saying is an established concept, but the object from which the expression derives is rarely known.

The lark mirror was born from a technical need and was transformed into something abstract that discerns its true meaning. It is an inspiring object, containing multiple characteristics in a single artefact: sculptural, cinematic, functional, decorative and hypnotic, all at once.

The cheerful lark, as in the air she flies,
And on this gossamer casts down her eyes,
Takes it for mirrors laid by rural swains
And therefore fears to light upon the plains.

Hester Pulter (c. 1596-1678), "The Lark" (Poem 46, Elemental Edition), ed. Leah Knight and Wendy Wall, in The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making, ed. Leah Knight and Wendy Wall (2018.)

Piergiorgio Robino

Nucleo is a studio collective of artists and designers based in Turin, founded and directed from 1997 by Piergiorgio Robino, guest professor at the Politecnico of Turin, at Domus Academy of Milan and Bezalel Academy of Jerusalem.

Our work can be described as an investigation of time-frames; their matrix and their existences. Distinctive, curious and tactile, we draw comparisons between the past and the future. A theme that influences the perception of the “self” and the surroundings. We play with the presumption of interlacing time-frames and exploring the space they create. With a focus on three dimensional shapes, the physical and tactile experience is an important part of the expression. We have always been interested in working with history, the lack of history, and the creation of it. Aspects necessary to build a memory. We believe that through making a past of the future, we can create a curiosity of history that has not yet happened.

Nucleo’s designs have been exhibited worldwide and exhibiting in leading Fairs specializing in art and design.