Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mirror / Mirror

A Pair of [Very Dark] Glasses. JBowring, August 2008. (Mirrors, Paper)

With Dr Dee and Claude Lorrain in mind. Two mirrors, two glasses. One concave, drawing in the swirling prophesies that drift in the unseen. A scrying glass. The other convex, forcing a particular pictorial composition on the scene. A Claude glass. Together, a peculiar synergy. Dr Dee's inverts the image, what is seen appears upside down. Thus what is encountered with this strange device of my own making is peculiarly poised between altered states, between orientations.

Hovering between the scene and the unseen apparitions swirl across the surface. Laid upon a surface near the window, a bird flies first upside down though metaphysical space, and then inverts itself across the Claude glass to become an unwitting player in a scenic composition. Akin to what was called 'staffage' - those stock figures deployed in the foreground of picturesque scenes, surrogates for our selves, references for scale.

The glasses should, of course, be darker. But obsidian is hard to come by in these parts - despite living on a volcano. The blackness is vital, for both Claude and Dr Dee. Investigations are ongoing. Coal and copper are also possible, both of which, when polished, would give the reduced tonal spectrum required of the Claude glass, and the vertiginous depths needed for Dr Dee's divination.

"I saw in my [Claude] glass a picture that if I could transmit to you and fix it in all the softness of its living colours, would fairly sell for a thousand pounds." Thomas Gray in a letter to Thomas Wharton (1769)

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