Inspired by the legend of Archimedes’s defense against the Roman siege using giant mirrors, designer Nikolas Bentel created mirrored protest signs to help activists battling the Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead of setting fires like the mirrors in the legend, though, these signs were designed to reflect images of police and distract them with glaring light.
“There is a two-fold effect of having police reflected into the mirrors,” says Bentel. “First, the mirrors will be a way for the police to see who they have become. Second, the police will be placed in the context of the words on the mirror. Whatever has been written onto the mirrors will be directly associated with what is being reflected, almost like a cartoon thought bubble.”
Although this isn’t the first time mirrors have been used in a protest—protesters in Ukraine during EuroMaidan and demonstrators around the United States after the Michael Brown shooting also used mirrors—Bentel’s version doesn’t actually use a mirror. Instead, he uses acrylic and paint for a cheaper and customizable version.
“If people would like to make their own mirrors, it’s simple,” he says. “All you need is a piece of acrylic, spray paint, and chalk marker. You apply the mirrored spray paint to one side of the plexiglass and the chalk marker with your statement on the other side.”
Bentel has already sent out his first series to the activists and plans to ship more out as they’re requested in hopes that there is truth to the myth of Archimedes.
“The stories show us that someone somewhere has fought a similar fight and was, in fact, victorious against insurmountable odds,” he says. “Archimedes faced similar odds. The large Roman fleet would have quickly ruined his small town, but with a bit of ingenuity and faith he was able to hold the attackers back. I hope by equating the anti-DAPL fight with the fight of Archimedes, the protesters will find hope in his victory.”