It all began when Zazie and me started to wonder about what could possibly be seen inside of a metallized sphere. In order to answer this question, we first tried a direct and physical approach. Zazie went to Vienna and bought two plastic half spheres, but she did not find the metallizing paint we were looking for. Several months later when meeting in Paris, we again made an attempt to find this paint in the fine arts supplies shops around Montparnasse, but in vain. Anyway, we also had to find a method to get some light inside the sphere, because in the absence of light we were certain that the inside of a metallized sphere is completely dark. And yet another question was to find a way to look inside the sphere without noticeably disturbing the phenomenom.

That's what the state of things was when while playing with a 3D modelling tool I thought of covering a sphere and a cube with a metallized texture. To my surprise, I found out that one of the objects that I had incorporated within the scene, but which was not visible on the screen was nevertheless reflected in the cube and in the sphere. This finding moved me so much that I felt compelled to share my amazement with my son who happened to pass close by at that moment, and he marvelled as well. "And yet, and yet - said I after thinking for a while - this software is not perfect, because ethere are some objects that should reflect in these mirrors and yet they don't..." "Which ones ?" did he say with a bit of surprise". "Our faces !" said I, laughing.

A couple of minutes later, Zazie in Vienna was made aware of this little discovery by e-mail and she immediateley started to explore the new possibilities opened by the systematic use of such a feature. In less than 2 weeks, she had done so much and our initial field of investigation had been growing at such a pace that we had both totally forgotten about our initial problem, as it had quickly been covered by answers to hundreds of questions we had not imagined to ever wonder about. Working with the high degree of order and method known to characterize surrealist investigations, Zazie had built graphical solutions to the subtle questions of a cube reflecting into a sphere - example -, of a cone reflecting into a sphere - example - and even the so erotically suggestive question of a sphere reflecting into a sphere - example -. She had led the approach to the kind of refinement by which, by tuning the intensity of lights, only reflections were left to be seen in the scenes she was building, as the reflected realities themselves had politely withdrawn into the background darkness. - example.

Some months after this exciting period, as the fury of reflections had finally cooled down and given place to other experiments, Michel Zimbacca during one of the regular surrealist Café meetings told me about a question he had often been wondering about : what is actually happening between two mirrors left alone in front of one another ? The important word here is "alone" which highlights the core of the difficulty, since as soon as some observer is allowed, the answer is known to anyone. But Michel, much more than by the playing of reflections was actually haunted by this special sweetness that we suspect to take hold of things when they are left in the absence of any human attention, so that he believed that any answer to his question was obviously forbidden by the very laws of logic. I as a matter of fact was of a quite different opinion, because I knew that in a somewhat sophisticated simulation environment, one can cast light on objects without being worried about the reflections and shadows of lamps and take photos without caring about a camera's embarassing presence. Half an hour later, Zazie was at work in Vienna and investigating this new problem. However, because my own explanations about Michel's problem had not been clear enough, she did not build the adequate model and this beautiful question, just like the question related to the sphere was long left open on our laziness.

As I like to say, the value of problem has not much to do with their solution - after the first excitement is gone, nothing looks more stupid indeed than a man who has solved his problem. Rather, their actual value lies in the transformations they operate on our perception of the world. And - just like a mole does - the original question submitted by Michel had to dig its way through series of rich images built from the free magic of view points and from all kinds of illusions that reflections bring along with them.

Further came a quite unexpected problematic. A new version of Poser - a 3D software tool dedicated to the modelling of human bodies - has been published and Zazie had been strongly impressed by the new features developed by Metacreations engineering teams. So she was building series of 3 dimensional scenes haunted by various types of human bodies - although of the female kind most of them. After some while, mirrors of all shapes came back in Zazie's images, with bodies diving in and out of them - example -, well, to be short, with bodies and mirrors mixed together in all possible ways - example.

Then things cooled down again and remained - so to say - as they were until the moment when Zazie decided to explore the depths of simulated submarine lanscapes. She ventured in there without any mask, flippers or air bottles, with her bare mind, fingers and eyes, and one could then see - by a strange curvature of space - that waves could actually invade and sweep both the bottom of the sea and its surface - example -.Some weeks later, we had both come to the conclusion that plunging mirrors in water was obviously the next step.- example.

Months later, as yet another disk crash was depriving me of my computer, of any Internet communication and hence of almost any possible daily contact with Zazie, I was trying to smooth my misery in the Internet Café next door. Strange Internet Café by the way - haunted by younsters with greenish suburbian airs - a rather unexpected species right in the center of Paris, but rue du Vertbois is not among the richest areas either - who spent their time heartily killing each other through computer screens, virtual weapons and software games . The atmosphere of the place was filled with both a sort of noisy passion and a valiant sense of humor and I decided from the start to treat everyone as an equal. I must say that in spite of the age gap - I could easily have been the father of most of them - the company quickly welcomed me with a sort of kindness and called me by my first name from the second evening on. This suggests that unpolite and disrespectful behaviors probably originate more often in the elders attitude than in the youth, quite the opposite actually of what police oriented mass media would like to lead us to think. While I was wondering about the possible origin of some foreign scent - foreign but quite identifiable - in such a harbor of freedom, the atmosphere of which was protected by a strictly obeyed "No smoking" sign, Zazie sent me a message mentionning that she finally had entered the sphere and she sent me Zaziedences of it by e-mail. I was so deeply moved by these Zaziedences that I invited the manager - hardly 20 years old - to share my emotion. He came, stared at Zazie's pictures, and soon looked completely amazed. Then he told me that he was playing with the computer art thing himself, asked which tools Zazie was using and in a matter of seconds had jumped back to his computer and was already looking to the corresponding web sites, checking for conditions and prices. Then Zazie explained her approach, mentionning that the inside of a metallized sphere was not that fascinating after all - although - but that things changed radically as soon as the sphere was populated with other metallized or illuminated shapes... Clearly enough..- example

And there we are, lovers hung to one another by their thin thread of speech, exploring the glass sphere that Jeronimus Bosch once made for them, a sphere now enclosed within quick silver walls where incredible and unknown paths are permanently unfolding, along which the calculated reality comes to ravage the forms of the thinkable.

Pierre Petiot