Surveillance, Transparency and the Hidden in Contemporary Culture
Edited By Henriette Steiner and Kristin Veel
2 Mirroring the Invisible
In what follows, I will summarise some of my observations relating to the cultural history of the mirror as a medium and material in art and science. I claim that mirrors play an important role in comprehending both the ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ while helping us to understand the close relationship between ‘observing’ and ‘measuring’ within scientific and artistic practice. As a medial and material precondition for both ‘vision’ (the natural aspect of the visible) and ‘visuality’ (its cultural aspect), mirrors produce at the same time blind spots of both ‘vision’ and ‘visuality’ that require a research focus towards the very boundaries of visual cultural studies. This article demonstrates such a research interest by addressing the complementary relation between mirrors and images in the first section, followed by a short survey of mirror-mediated scientific extensions of the human field of vision in the second section. The third section discusses some prominent examples and concepts relating to modern architecture and contemporary cultural practices (including surveillance and popular film), thus reflecting some of the impact of mirror-mediated (in)visibility on modern culture more generally.
Mirror and Image
As a surface that has the ability to reflect incoming light rays, the mirror’s distinct qualities have always inspired study within the humanities, where it has been traditionally comprehended either as a medium of self-knowledge, or, alternatively, as a void in the apprehension of the world. Instead of either of these approaches, I have been looking at some differences...
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