The Compassion-Passion Machine


The topics discussed included:

Womb Twins, a fondness for Shiny Objects, Similar Identities, Grandmothers with Circus-Contortionist Skills, Dutch Adherents of Jungian Psychology,

The Technological Damage to the Natural Environment, an Aesthetic Inspired by a Futuristic Darth Vader, and Michael Stipe.

Jon Bernad, a 27-year-old performance artist who had taken care of a celebrity’s pet, put his head inside a box that appeared to be a kissing chamber from the exterior.

This “Mirrorbox” was constructed from black corrugated cardboard and featured a two-way mirror that split the interior into two sections.

It was on display in November 2010 on the patio of the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles, alongside a screening of the documentary The Invention of Dr. Nakamats , a movie about a peculiar Japanese scientist.

Jon and an unfamiliar person were situated on either side of a two-way mirror inside the box, which covered their heads, necks, and upper shoulders.

Gazing into each other’s eyes, they experienced a four-minute sequence of LED lights fading in and out of darkness, creating a shifting blend of their faces on the surface of the mirror.

Whenever Jon’s light was brighter, he could see more of himself than the stranger; however, when his light dimmed, his face was replaced by the stranger’s.

Jon remained in the enclosure as a succession of unfamiliar people took turns in front of the mirror. Ultimately, Megan Daalder had her turn.

The inventor of the Mirrorbox initially had the idea for it referred to as the “Soul Collider” and “the Empathy Accumulator” before settling on its final name.

Jon noticed the light reflecting off his face slowly transition to the image of Megan’s. During the four-minute duration, his left side was merging with her right side, forming one person. He said he experienced an array of emotions, and then the box went dark.

Afterwards, Jon filled out a survey with queries regarding the extent to which he felt connected to animals, if he was labeled as “sensitive,” and if there were any outcomes of the box he was in.

He does relate to animals, is indeed labelled as sensitive, and when leaving the box, he was in a state of love – not being certain if it was for the box or Megan.

Jon pondered over the validity of his emotions. He had experienced such a strong bond, feeling deeply cherished, but would this remain when not within the artificial conditions? Was it true love or merely a figment of the machine? Could an artificial program generate a genuine emotion?

Subsequently, Jon welcomed John Houx–a light-skinned folk singer with ample lips and a robust voice–to Megan’s abode to try out the Mirrorbox with her.

Houx claims that when he encountered Megan, it was as if he was meeting Doc Brown from Back to the Future. She appeared to be a peculiar scientist, albeit one wearing a blue and white dress.

Megan’s physical presence is remarkable: she is notably tall; her shoulders are wide and angular; her arms are hard and sinewy; her eyes are intense and multiple-colored (predominantly blue, but also yellow). Moreover, her clothing is a form of art in itself.

At first, Houx felt awkward; he thought about what his expression appeared to Megan. His initial unease soon changed to laughter. His emotions then intensified.

He related to me, “I moved into the subconscious where it felt almost instinctive.” Houx and Megan made strange faces, copied one another’s motions, and sang extended notes and improvised melodies

. When the four minute period was up, Megan reached for the switch and reset it.

Houx stated that, as each cycle finished, the urge to stay in the little world they had created grew increasingly more powerful. He could not picture himself going away from there.

The universe outside was vast and full of people and objects, but why would he return to the emptiness when he could spend time with his twin inside the womb?

Upon leaving the box, Houx proclaimed to Megan that “you made a love-generator.” He said that any two people who entered it would inevitably end up feeling loving towards each other. Although he is uncertain if he would still share the same level of affection for her, the Mirrorbox has impacted his outlook on life greatly. “It’s like I can look at anyone now – from any age, gender, or place – and see myself in them,” he explained.

Megan believes that “everyone can love each other” is a universal truth. “It allows you to feel love through a physical process very quickly,” she said.

Dr. Glenn Wilson, a sexual behavior expert, discussed this further in his lecture “What Is This Thing Called Love?” and noted that “scientific studies prove that mutual eye contact plus self-disclosure can create love in the laboratory.”

He further suggested that the Mirrorbox reflects the viewer’s face onto the face of the other person, and that this could result in the viewer falling in love with a stranger, or with their own reflection, or with a combination of both.

Jon referred me to a passage from James Grieve’s rendition of Proust’s In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower that asserted.

“Few realize the highly subjective nature of love or how it can form a distinct individual that is very distinct from the one that is known to others, and is largely composed of parts of ourselves.”

As a curator in Los Angeles, Amanda Hunt noted while in the Mirrorbox with Megan that it presented a peculiar quandary: whether her admiration for the artist was due to her beauty or if she was enamored of her own reflection.

For her photography project titled Searching for the Perfect Compliment, Megan gravitated towards primary colors and anything sparkly. She wore a primary colored dress and all-black Converse high-tops for three consecutive days.

On the first day, she found a woman in an orange shirt while wearing a blue dress. On the second day, a woman in a purple jacket was found while wearing a yellow dress.

Lastly, with a red dress, Megan spotted a man in a green sweater on the third day. This piece, similar to the Mirrorbox, involved Megan connecting with various strangers.

Megan expressed that a lot of her art is her attempt to make a creative connection with other people. She admitted that she was once very timid.

However, some people may find her Mirrorbox to be confrontational. She observed that it is almost like a face-to-face confrontation of a person’s identity.

The Mirrorbox was originally designed for one person’s use. Megan had it positioned on her head, with a two-way mirror covering her face. She could still see out, but the people she encountered could only view their own reflection. As she traversed Melrose Avenue, Megan spoke with strangers, who addressed their own reflections.

It occurred to her that if she lit the box up from the inside, she would be able to see her reflection in the looking glass. When she tried it out with a buddy, they started making funny faces at one another, matching up their lips and noses.

Megan found that it was like they were sharing a mind or a body, and she began to refer to it as “shared identity.”

Subsequently, she recollected thinking to herself, “This is incredibly effective.” She pondered why such a basic technology had created such a strong response.

In order to investigate her discovery, Megan chose to “take on the role of the scientist,” which to her meant wearing glasses (without a prescription), conservative clothing (less varied in color), and conducting surveys based on the early LSD studies.

She commented, “I was really curious to understand why it was so simple to share an identity.” Of course, she recognized that sharing an identity should not be effortless.

The Mirrorbox may seem and be of high-tech quality, yet it is still an analog contraption. The order in which the lights flash is predetermined, yet what is seen in the mirror is just light reflecting off the nearly transparent silver surface of the mirror.

Some may think it is a digital projection of the two faces, however it is much more straightforward: the amount of light determines the transparency of the mirror, technology which has been in existence since 1903.

According to Blaine O’Neill, a tech-savvy activist and artist, the Mirrorbox has a close association with the New Aesthetic, which he clarified as “being aesthetically impacted by our reliance on technology in the real world.”

This New Aesthetic began as a blog by James Bridle that explored technology-induced novelties and the manner in which the digital transforms into the physical (such as street-view photography, drones, or 8-bit fabric designs).

According to O’Neill, she has done an incredible job of mirroring digital treatments in a straightforward, analog approach. It looks like it could have come right out of Photoshop, though it is another person you can physically perceive and interact with.

In 1986, Megan was born in Los Angeles, and she experienced her upbringing in what she refers to as an “European-intellectual-household”. Her parents, Rene Daalder and Bianca (a psychologist and painter respectively), are both Dutch.

Additionally, Megan’s grandmother had a career as a contortionist in the circus.

Megan is linked to her dad’s accomplishments in digital filmmaking, which includes pioneering a virtual-reality movie for European TV, shooting a feature in Sony Digital HD, and implementing real-time motion-capture in a flick.

She has worked for the production company her dad founded from home, allowing her to experiment with the Mirrorbox.

Megan expressed that when she was in the Mirrorbox with her father, it was a representation of wanting to distance herself from her parents while simultaneously having a moment of complete understanding.

For Megan, the Mirrorbox represents aspects of both her parents’ professions: the psychological and the cinematic.

Dr. Robert Bosnak, a Dutch Jungian psychologist who has been acquainted with Megan for several years, commented on this saying, “That’s what psychoanalysts and filmmakers have in common. They are intrigued by the realm of imagination, the realm of in-between.”

At the Imagination and Medicine Conference in 2011 in Santa Barbara, Dr. Bosnak asked Megan to bring the Mirrorbox as a training tool for psychotherapists.

The purpose of the Mirrorbox was to help therapists be more cognizant of the state of fusion when communicating with other people.

According to Dr. Bosnak, “it is impossible to completely differentiate between the self and the other, so the Mirrorbox keeps us mindful of the fusion state, which is what actually happens in all communication.”

Additionally, relationships are ever-changing and never stagnant. Similar to the moving images produced in the box, it is not possible for two living people to remain static, making them appear to only be still.

Tracy Rosenthal, a writer who had come across the Mirrorbox at a salon in Los Angeles, noted that “It displays a relationship in a constant state of change,” and that “It emphasizes the relationship more than the two people.”

The outcome of this experience can be either good or bad. Those who know each other well might grow closer, and two strangers might even find love. On the other hand, some might rush away, due to self-absorption, self-hatred, or uneasiness around a new person.

According to Rosenthal, having to look at someone else’s image instead of our own is a highly unpleasant experience. She pointed out that our society is quite narcissistic and, as a result, it’s difficult for us to objectify the other, leaving us feeling distressed.

In the fall of 2011, Megan attended a Mindshare salon in Los Angeles and encountered Dr. Sook-Lei Liew, who was a doctoral student studying occupational science and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Southern California.

At the salon, Dr. Liew discussed her research on the brain’s reaction to empathy and how she uses neuroimaging to investigate human behavior, social interaction, and which areas of the brain are triggered during various activities.

After her lecture, Megan suggested that Dr. Liew use the Mirrorbox for her experiments in the lab, seeing as the experience was strongly related to her research.

Dr. Liew has finished the introductory phase of a Mirrorbox trial.

She has been assessing if the Mirrorbox can be utilized as a method to create a connection between two people who are unfamiliar with each other

And if it can boost empathic behavior among those who have negative preconceptions of one another, such as members of two races who dislike the other.

“It would be worth exploring to see if a tool that encourages becoming the other person will also improve empathy between two who don’t agree.”

Megan made a resolution to create a new, transportable and reproducible version of the box since there were so many people who desired the item in various areas. She also wanted Dr. Liew to have one in her laboratory.

Megan crafted a 3-D blueprint of a bulbous two-person helmet, which was machined and formed using vacuum technology.

This lightweight helmet can be easily carried with one arm. Compared to the previous version, this new model is a superior industrial-design piece, featuring components that allow people to stay in it comfortably for extended periods.

Where the first model had minimal ventilation, this one has fans. It is also lined with fabric and has a luxurious feel inside, like a pricey automobile. Still resembling a kissing chamber, it is more advanced, as if made for lizards or Darth Vader.

Megan and I tested out the new edition. Having been in the prior version with her, I noticed this one was darker. It had a much more techy feel and was not as cozy. Instead of the soft illumination merging our faces, it was much swifter and had a strobe-light quality. The ambiance was similar to being at a rave.

I discussed the new version with Megan, who wanted to know if I felt like I was seeing too much of myself. I replied that I was so focused on my own features that I became self-conscious and noticed that my eyebrows weren’t groomed.

This made it difficult for me to truly empathize with her since being able to forget about oneself is a big part of being able to understand someone else.

Megan commented that, due to all the small elements, the project never seemed to end. She was dedicating her efforts to ensuring every detail, from the layout to the order of the lights, was perfect.

The limited-edition Mirrorbox was created with the intention of allowing multiple people to benefit from its use. According to Emma Gray, Megan’s manager, it would be unfair to limit its use to one individual.

When I inquired about the price of Megan’s new invention, the Mirrorbox, she appeared remarkably bashful. She views this endeavor as a benefit to society and a tool for research rather than a way to get wealthy.

The initial Mirrorbox was sold to Christopher Chee, a collector, for ten thousand dollars and was on display at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood. Megan donned a silver cape.

Megan suggested that the mass production of Mirrorboxes could potentially bring about increased sensitivity, remarking that it could help people become more aware of their connection with those around them

possibly even reducing the prevalence of individualism and egoism in American culture.

Megan promotes empathy and stranger-interaction with her sixth Mirrorbox which she takes to exhibitions, conventions, and events, though we are still distant from mass production and a major shift in attitude.

In 2011, Megan and Emma introduced the Mirrorbox to the Jack Hanley Gallery in TriBeCa for a two-day exhibition.

On a shaky glass table, the box was placed and Emma, assisted by Megan, asked the visitors to fit their faces into the box. “Don’t be scared to adjust your head until you can see each other,” Megan encouraged and then pressed the button.

The guests were seated in chairs opposite each other and placed their arms on the tabletop to experience the Mirrorbox light sequence, which lasted for a little more than two minutes. She had modified it since I had experienced it at her residence. The initial slower fades and personal feel had been mixed with the strobe-light party atmosphere of the second iteration.

At the opening, Megan ventured into the box several times, commenting that each time it gave her a rush.

The atmosphere of the crowd was also quite infectious, with people asking one another, “Have you experienced it yet?” They seemed eager to discuss their altered state created by the Mirrorbox.

This opening was not like many events in New York, but rather acted as a tool for breaking the ice and meeting new people.

Jack Hanley, the gallery owner, noted that the Mirrorbox had the ability to create an instant bond that was second only to that of LSD, but preferring the latter. On a scorching summer night, he served cold beer and boiled hot dogs to the small audience.

He stepped into the box with an ex-girlfriend, and when asked about his experience he replied, “It was too much information.”

On the given Friday, Megan spent the entire day at the art gallery, conversing with reporters and interested onlookers.

Her hairstyle, self-cut with short bangs and a slight mullet, in combination with her black boots and pink/beige romper, gave her the appearance of a futuristic incarnation of a medieval prince.

At the close of the day, REM frontman Michael Stipe came into the gallery when Megan was packing up the Mirrorbox to be sent back to Los Angeles. He went in with a companion and when he came out, Megan asked him if he was feeling any aftereffects.

He replied, “Yes, but that is expected for me.” Stipe told her he had put a photo of the Mirrorbox on Instagram, which he had given a somber black-and-white filter.

She was delighted and asked how she could find it. He told her to look for him on Instagram, but Megan didn’t know who he was. Realizing this, Stipe typed his name into her phone.

In 2012, the New Yorker published a story by Patricia Marx about, a website that lets people offer their homes to travelers for no cost, or, as Marx suggests, in exchange for companionship. She commented:


Has our relationship with technology made us feel so isolated that we become friends with anyone and stay with anyone who can provide a bed? Furthermore, how deep can a social bond be if it is based on paperwork and usually only lasts a short time? “It’s sad when they go,” Sommer, one of my hosts in San Francisco, remarked. “But then you get another one.”


It appears that people are becoming interchangeable, and, like playing a game of pinball, you get points by connecting with as many as you can.


Performance art is increasingly becoming a space for strangers to interact with each other in a way that they believe is significant. During Marina Abramović’s show at the MoMA, numerous individuals were moved to tears.

Abramović noted that she felt a strong sense of love for everyone who sat in front of her. It is possible that people would purchase a doll that appears to cry and love them, if such an item was available.

Healing and transformation can come from being seen deeply, and if you are searching for a metamorphic experience, you can find it. For generations, gurus and wise people have been providing this service.

Healers may or may not have supernatural abilities, but they are compassionate, welcoming, and give a great deal of focus. An alternate label for the Mirrorbox could be “the Attention Apparatus.”

Megan’s economy, which is based on performance, has made connections into a form of currency, comparable to a drug.

Will we require higher doses of this drug in order to get the same affect when we use the Mirrorbox?

Is there an endless appetite for this sort of connection among those who have been deeply affected by the Mirrorbox? Ultimately, the Mirrorbox provides us with what we seek:

The capacity to develop love, to communicate with all types of individuals, to sympathize, or to try to recognize the personal quality of love, vanity, estrangement, and connection in the digital era.

Megan argued that, instead of having a negative impact, technology can enrich our understanding of humanity and our connections with one another. It can be a way to enhance, rather than take away from, our physical, direct experience of the world.

Rhetorically questioning, Jon Bernad proposes an alternate explanation for the Mirrorbox’s allure. He inquires, “What if the greatest artwork of all was a mirror?”

He goes on to emphasize how the introduction of another person can completely transform the experience, making it far more meaningful than solitary activities.

He notes that there are an infinite number of narratives that can be crafted simply by looking into somebody’s eyes, sometimes even your own.

You Could Possibly Have an Interest In

Rather than simply copying the text, one can alter its structure while still retaining its semantic meaning and context. This is how one can avoid plagiarizing.

A picture of a cabana is presented in this image, with a roof and four walls that stand out. The structure appears to be nestled in a tranquil setting, with a grassy bed and trees in the background.

Both an “indigenous hut” and a “recreational structure” can be referred to as a cabana, and it has similarities to a vagina in its more recreational purpose.

Rather than “pussy,”

utilize the term “cabana” instead.

Neither the weather nor people can be barred from entering or existing.

As soon as the burden of carrying the baby becomes too great, moms yearn for delivery. Yet, they will still be filled with tears.

They don’t want to surrender

what feels like it is a part of them;

Picture if your heart

deserted your body.

You might experience shame

that your heart had punched a gap.

Your top has become a bit see-through,

giving others a glimpse of your chest area,

but how will that heart of yours fare?

In the cruel realm of life,

in your absence, many creatures

would hunger for the meal

and many thoughtless drivers–

Composing a text message, extending one’s arm in the direction of the console. Perhaps you have no bond whatsoever.

Though you’ve never spoken to the heart, you still regret not taking care of whatever was yours to look after.

Departs from you, quickly heading towards danger.

No matter how difficult a situation may be,

it is essential to enter the protection of the vagina

in order to be secure.

Neglecting the more serious offenses,

nearly every female

has experienced a sense of haste.

A man clambering for security

like a child who lashes out

when all that is needed is rest

or a drink of juice.

Once inside a vagina, the men who climax quickly experience a sense of relief– not overstimulation. It’s almost like a sigh of relief, as if they can let go and allow a bit of their life to slip away. Thank goodness they can surrender and release a bit of the pressure.

But what is the female expressing when she arrives?

He made an attempt on my life

however, I returned!

(Like I always do

when someone tries to take my life,

I envision that this would be a habitual occurrence.

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