Illustrating this comment and this page of sketches and calculations, I’m posting these photos to show how we worked out the relative dimensions of the mirror/screen. Not very complicated! Lucas’ armspan (188cm) was assumed to be similar to Guy’s – thus, we reasoned, Lucas would use a “full-size” mirror of 24X32 inches (61X81.3cm). Louise’s armspan (163cm) means that, following the ratio, her cut-down mirror should measure 70X52.5cm
However, looking back at these photos (especially the one immediately above this text) I’m now struck by something a bit more interesting to think about.
Check out the mirror which is leaning up against my leg. There is the illusion of continuity between the “real” grass and the mirror grass, as if grassy space continues unbroken “through” the plane of the mirror. So when your eye travels up the mirror, the reflection of the chair comes as something of a surprise. I find it confusing and visually compelling, like a mind-bender puzzle. To my eye, the horizontal space of the grass seems to be prised up and over my leg. As if it’s been collaged (or photoshopped) on top of the portion of the photo where I am standing.
And then, this photo, with Louise holding the mirror/screen, with the “screen” side towards us, has a completely different visual effect. If you squint your eyes, it is as if the rectangular area of the screen has been sliced out of the picture altogether, giving the impression that you are seeing “through the page” to the blank void on the other side.
These twin/opposite visual effects (collage and excision) started happening for us, without our even trying, just in the shooting of a few documentation photos. Later, when we started to experiment with Louise and her mum, the visual puzzles began to pile up more…
The above photo exhibits the same illusion that happens in Guy’s performance of Man with Mirror: the white square reflected in the mirror looks like a small object held by two hands – one Louise’s “real” hand, the other Val’s reflected hand…
Chewing over these thoughts, it occurred to me that this Man with Mirror re-enactment project presents more opportunities than we had originally imagined. Mirrors are incredible tools. They’re so ubiquitous in everyday life that I think I usually forget about them, just use them without realling “seeing them” for themselves.
When we started with the idea of re-enacting (or re-making) Guy Sherwin’s piece, we watched Guy perform it, studied the video documents, and mirrors were re-enchanted for us. We were able to see mirrors once more, with “fresh eyes”, as the amazing artefacts/tools that they are. But it wasn’t until we made our own mirrors, and started mucking around with them in the back yard, that we realised how much fun they can be. Now, a sort of transformation of consciousness is happening – I am beginning to see mirrors everywhere. Last night, in a Thai restaurant, I was given a Mintie after dinner, and the above drawing on the wrapper leapt out at me!