Sunday, May 16, 2010

Twisted reflections

We see ourselves every day. At first intentionally as we decide how we should look for the rest of the world. Then, throughout the rest of the day, we come across ourselves in everything from store windows to rain puddles. Each time we see ourselves, it is distorted by color and shape, constantly being molded by the cause, elements and situations that make up the reflection in the first place.

However, even in the perfect mirror, is how we perceive what is on the other side of the glass ever accurate? Sure, there is a likeness of what we think we look like staring back at us, along with a reversed image of otherwise familiar surroundings. Most obviously, the memory of our appearance that we take away from our daily observation is backwards. The slight asymmetries that give us character are on the wrong side, viewed and remembered exactly opposite from what those around us see.

Yet there are more subtle versions of this distortion. Whatever the source, our minds are also filled with all of the notions about what we should be, what we are, how we are or are not living up to whatever standards we have accepted. Society places its standards on us about how we should look and act, so while the person on the other side of the glass starts out as an image of a real person, it is filtered by the programming our brains have received.

Taking a sculpture that is entirely coated in a reflective surface gives one a more intentional twist on the mirror images we think are so commonplace. Yet this simple view, with the severely limited angle of view the camera provides, in many ways preserves more of what we remember a place like this to be. Even though we can only view at one time about as much as the lens on this camera could capture on a frame, our brains stitch the scene together into a memory. Elements that are otherwise in opposite directions become a single, continuous thing. Being able to see in many different directions, notably the skyline bending opposite the sun setting into the water, it turns out what we think is a twisted reflection created by the brilliantly orchestrated surfaces is in many ways less of a lie than the flat glass we use to prepare ourselves to leave the house in the morning.

Even as I was taking this photo, I was trying to put my own programming filter onto the final result, positioning myself to look as if I was not at this location at all. Such an obvious lie, yet one we seem to be willing to tell our viewers, and perhaps on some level even believe.

Though seemingly just a simple abstraction of a sculpture captured on film, it does serve to open our minds to the misrepresentations of all reflections, and open us up to being more honest with ourselves. Sometimes it takes a bent reflection to straighten everything out.

zen of street photography seeing ourselves more honestly reflections store windows rain puddles elemetns mirrors glass backwards symmetry diestortion notions should and should not be standards paradigms programming sculpture reflective surface twist camera mamiya 645E
fuji velvia reflections are a lie tm t m cleland photograpy

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  1. I'm so glad to meet you and your wonderful blog! I'm your first follower, yeah! :))

    Thank you very much for your kind compliment to my post about "Simplicity" on my blog.

    You should make your blog more known to get more traffic to your site. Your blog is too beautiful and people will love it, but they have to see it! What about sharing it on social sites?

  2. WOO-HOO! Welcome and thanks for being first! On my way to having lots of people see it, and it all starts with the first.

    Thank you for the wonderful comment. I'll be seeing you (on your blog as well as mine) very soon.