When it comes to refining a piece of work, one that regards a transdisciplinary self-portrait, an object that may seem so simple but isn’t used often, would be the mirror. The mirror has been used in movies and television shows to identify a psychological imbalance or a split identity. Although it can now be seen as a cliché, it does not take away the fact it is a way to show an internal crisis or different interpretation than the current physical form.
Creating a distortion to what is seen before your eyes, of your own body, has the opportunity to do multiple things: the ability to use mirrors and create an abstract visual take of yourself, but also there is an opportunity for people to attempt to externally convey their internal crises and feelings in a way that body language, facial expressions and demeanour simply cannot.
Mirrors are primarily used as a means to see ourselves and make adjustments to look as visually good to society or for vanities sake. However mirrors are the best theoretical objects to manifest your look into something that you may feel properly expresses your feelings or emotions. This isn’t to say there has not been pieces of art made with the use of distorting a person’s imagery through the use of mirrors, but these pieces have been digitally pieced or produced.
The gripe with mirrors is that it is sudden; reactionary. We are well aware of what we are about to look at when we are in front of a mirror – ourselves. However, layering different sized mirrors unevenly, across a large cupboard mirror for example, would change the image to a degree that may be unexpected, since different sized mirrors showcase variable angles and focuses (examples being convex and concave mirrors). Now examples of art being used with mirrors have included the use of cracked handheld mirrors, and in the case of showing reflection, M. C. Eschers lithographs, including Hand with Reflecting Sphere.
Mirrors are not just for a visual representation, but can also be used as a philosophical shift in people’s lives. Throughout the career of Marina Abramović, her performance art has shifted from the use and physicality of her own body at the behest of observes, to using the observers as the performance and observing or interacting minimally.
The use of mirrors and reflection has never been as abundant as it currently is, with the use of smartphones and mobile applications, and computers and tablets with cameras. The use and desire to record our visual selves and openly reveal it to the world in hopes of admiration or affection has stunted the way in which we prioritise our image, and the additional ability to change said image through applications with filters, effects and other visual tweaks has reduced the role of the mirror to a base function.
In a time where digital alterations and enhancements roam the minds of many people, the mirror has been an afterthought of imagination and illusion. In previous generations, mirrors could influence a child’s imagination or create ‘what if?’ ideas that may revolutionise their thoughts and dreams. It was the mirror that could make you look at yourself and find out who you really were or who you wanted to be. But now, the mirror is all but used so your photos don’t show your arm holding your phone, instead hiding your face from what’s in front of you – you.
Artobserved.com, (2015). AO On Site – New York: Marina Abramović “The Artist Is Present” at MoMA, March 14 through May 31, 2010. [online] Available at: http://artobserved.com/2010/03/ao-on-site-new-york-marina-abramovic-the-artist-is-present-at-moma-march-14-through-may-31-2010/ [Accessed 11 Mar. 2015].
Autographer Blog, (2013). The art of self-reflection – Autographer Blog. [online] Available at: http://blog.autographer.com/2013/07/the-art-of-self-reflection/ [Accessed 19 May 2015].
Mcescher.com, (n.d.). M.C. Escher – Still Life with Spherical Mirror. [online] Available at: http://www.mcescher.com/gallery/most-popular/still-life-with-spherical-mirror/ [Accessed 19 May 2015].
Nga.gov, (n.d.). Hand with Reflecting Sphere. [online] Available at: https://www.nga.gov/collection/gallery/ggescher/ggescher-47949.html [Accessed 22 May 2015].