The black mirror was a commonly used optical device among landscape painters in the eighteenth century. Known as the Claude Glass, after Claude Lorraine, for the subtle tonal effects produced, this technology, which prefigured the photographic lens, required the operator to turn their back on a scene in order to frame it, and was associated with the aesthetic of the picturesque.

Originating from the word 'descry'—to catch sight of—scrying is the divinatory practice of foretelling the future with the aid of a reflective surface. While the media used can vary, the black mirror has become a popular instrument among seers. Utilitarian and mythical, the obsidian mirror provokes a future that is literally retrospective, and makes claims toward truth through its manipulation of the mechanics of vision.

A space of active, magical, and fundamentally mediated visualization, the mirror is a compelling shared conceit in the work of Justin Allen, Rin Johnson, Diamond Stingily, and Deborah Willis.

Artists Space was founded with the mission of assisting emerging artists. In its first years, programs were organized through the strict criteria that artists select other artists to exhibit, with established voices offering the space to artists with less recognition. This reading sees two emerging artists invited to share work, with both asked to invite a figure that they admire to read alongside them. Rin Johnson invited Deborah Willis, while Diamond Stingily invited Justin Allen.