It just so happens that the majority of the mirrors I am talking about in this blog are very old (or, more accurately, the artworks that depict these mirrors are made long time ago. Therefore, one could get an impression that this blog is one those “historical projects”, aimed at re-telling (and sometimes re-interpreting) the past. Which is not true; I am of course interested in the historical side of the ‘mirrors in art’, too, and I hope that I will will continue to write the ‘historical’ postings – but I am equally interested in anti-historical stories as well.
As I wrote in my methodological manifesto (Future of Mirrors, Mirror of Future), my main focus in all these stories is more futurological, and this is as much about the future(s) as it is about the past(s). Or, if to be more precise, about our capacity to think about these categories more carefully (and in this regard my postings are better be psychotechical).
Unfortunately, I often skip explicit explanations of all these matters in my postings; I’ve been thinking to go back to some of my postings, and add these remarks – or at least be more explicit in the next postings about these ‘thinking the futures’ themes.
Obviously, I always wanted to write not only about ‘antique mirrors’, but about contemporary art works as well (and even the ‘future art). I did posted here few contemporary artworks, but not as many as I’d like to.
This posting is therefore a contribution to exactly that part of my collection. Robert Hutinski is a contemporary artist, a photographer from Slovenia (see more about him, and of his works at his website and Facebook). I learned about him just a few days ago, and this posting is a rather spontaneous reaction to one of his works. It’s not eve a story, but a show of this art works, called The Mirror.
A spoiler alert: if you want, it’s now the time to visit the site and make your own, mind about this art, unbiased by mirrored twist 🙂 Else, you are welcome to the show:
The artwork is a photograph, or rather – as in the case with most of Robert Hutinski’s artworks – is a series of photographs (seventeen of them in this case, as we are told).
Everything is ‘complex’ on this first picture, or at least puzzling. The first question, the most interesting for this blog is whether there a mirror here – but the answer is not so simple. Perhaps, this square object behind the woman is indeed a mirror? A broken one? But there are no clear signs of “mirror work”, there are no reflections. And yet, soon after we start gazing at different corners of this alleged mirror’, we stumble upon this double face of the woman, that somehow resembles duplication of objects in a mirror.
But we have to leave this image with a certain feeling of uncertainty; with something that is called, not without the reasons, “smoke & mirrors.”
May be the next one will make it more clear?
And yes, it did make it more clear! There is clearly a mirror, and it even does its ‘mirror work’, we see the woman reflected in it (was it the same woman as before? a different one? we don’t remember by now, and this way how these works are shown does not allow to see them next to each other – as does my blog; but I warned you about the spoiler.)
We get some certainty with the mirror, but everything else still remains quite mysterious; we can’t get the true plot of the story, at least as yet. Mirror-wise, it is also not so simple: we see the reflection in its surface, but it’s there for the woman, to look at herself, but for us, to look at her. But we can’t be sure if it’s a element of certain interior, or staged deliberately, and so the meaning of the mirror remains to be a mystery (a detective puzzle to be solved?)
Alice would tell ‘mysterier and mysterier’. This one again seems to be a mirror, we at least see a reflection – but maybe not; may be it’s ‘again’ some tricks with Photoshop? (we do remember them from the very first picture). Enigmatic, and intriguing.
Oh, yes, more enigmatic, and even more resembling ‘Through the Looking Glass’ atmosphere! A bit surreal, as in Magritte, and builds further our suspense.
Rarr! That’s class, that’s totally Magritte, even better! (Speaking about Magritte, I of course mean his La reproduction interdite, and it’s ‘better’ in sense that it’s we who are looking at a mirror, but it’s the mirror from which are being watched.) More even, not watched as in simple gazing at us, but somehow observed, surveilled, through indirect, but intense co-presence. An excellent work!
This is a literate allusion to the Prohibited Reproductions, and further development, further enhancement of the series.
That’s the crescendo, a total wow: a very complex, and original game of mirrors. Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd. Totally postmodern a play, and an inevitable question about The Next; what’s next, how he can exceed this escalation? We are full of anticipations!
What a splendid bummer! There are no mirrors. We try to locate them, of course – may be here? or there? But no, there aren’t any. We even try to catch the last chance – perhaps, this is the view ‘from’ the mirror?
But nope, mirrors can’t be really standing in the gardens, no way.
In short, a complete reboot.
And then again – what’s next, after such a wipe?
Hm. It’s all ‘surreal’ and ‘otherwordly’ again… but again without noticeable mirrors. Or perhaps *this* scene can be imagine as the veiw “from the mirror”, and ‘onto the room” (and “at the woman”) ? But a view of whom? Of is? of the mirror itself? of the woman’s reflection in the mirror?
Are we sure that this ‘reflection’ is not looking at us?
Interesting, but… shall we expect any mirrors any further? A mixture of suspense and exasperation is growing.
Oh, ok: that’ Magritte again, this time his falling men; yet no mirrors still.
And when our hopes have nearly all got lost, we see a mirror again!
Not the most outstanding one, sure, but it’s there; we do remember that last time the best mirrors had been pre-empted by some warm-up. So we are ready, give us the ‘next best’, please!
Right, not quite yet. Are these the mirrors? no, these are the lamps.
The women are beatiful (or is it the same one?)
Hmmm… that’s all getting really ghostly; if to talk about ‘mirrors’ in this context, then only about the Scrying Mirror in the story of John Dee.
Oo_kay, what’s this? Is this a mirror? Or a window? Two windows? Two doors? Can they be on the ceiling? Weird. But interesting. And puzzling, but all these pictures are.
And can we expect at least something, some mirrors, in the last one?
Oh, no. Not even a ‘garden’, but something more ‘wild’; pure ‘nature’, without even a traces of ‘culture’. Nature doesn’t have mirrors (nature doesn’t need mirrors).
What was it altogether?
I believe that it was a perfectly staged story, both revealing and concealing, opening a perfect Gestalt, but never actually closing it. The viewer’s attention is kept in the loop of anticipations – not completely unfulfilled, but never fulfilled in full. It’s an interesting mirror canon, in two parts:
In the first part we start at some ambivalent point (a mirror? or not?), and then the “Mirror Melody” made a few drops into “Not a Mirror” zone. But then it rebounds and soars into the mirror heights… to only fall on the bare ground. A true ‘mirror drama’.
The second part is even more complicated:
It starts already from a ‘lower’, no-mirror point, and we don’t see any for quite some (art) time. Then the mirror blinks, once, to then only disappear entirely, and completely – yet still being there, in our desire to have it.
I think it’s wonderful ‘mirror melody’. What do you think?
The author, by the way, believes that it is up to you to decide; I asked him to comment on the “meaning and purpose” of the mirrors in his works, and I got the following answer:
“usually i do not interpret but leave it to the viewer to reveal himself and give meaning to their vision”
Clear. I gave my meaning above.
In principle, I could also stop here. I shared, almost phenomenologically, my experience with this ‘Mirror’ (and skipped, deliberately, all other musings about all other series of Robert Hutinski – most of them are really interesting, but I’d need to keep my focus here).
But one of the key features of his works I do need to mention, and this is their “seriality”; they are almost always made in “series”, therefore inevitable have a very distinctive story-telling flavor. I looked through all of them (at least all those presented at the website), and spotted few more mirrors.
I decided to place them here too, but separately (although it’s always worth to remember that they are part of bigger series).
These two, for instance, are from the series Lost in Translation (Izgibljeno s prevodom, so the title of the posting):
And another mirror appears in the series called Sequences; in this each of the works itself a mini-series of photographs:
I wanted to be more ‘explicit’ about the ‘future studies’ aspects in my writings, but I don’t know how to exactly achieve it, at least in this case. One easy (well, easier) way is perhaps to imagine these works, these photographs as a ‘possible future’, from some point. For example, could Leonardo imagine that such works would appear in the future (=his future, that us) Would he understand these works? Would Degas? Or, say, Breitner?
They all would struggle with both imagining and understanding, I guess, of some other works by Hutinski – for example, his series XXth Century; this latter one requires to know the events that happened in the last century, often tragic and ‘unimaginable’.
But what about this ‘Mirror’ series. Is it universal enough to be understood and appreciated at all time? How would people understand it in a hundred years from now? Will they need any ‘translation’? Would they understand our current understanding of these works?
And then once again – what is it, our ‘current understanding’?