Into the Looking Glass

I’ve never understood how Narcissus could possibly have seen his own face in the pool – perhaps it’s a feat only possible in myths and in paintings that do not aspire to realism.

All summer I’ve been stalking deep space in the endless sky in the water, a compelling illusion of the universe right there to touch and grab right up. The water world suits our time with a graphic enhanced and saturated edit in which depth is vastly enlarged by having become projected, plants are doubled and merged in black outline, and the sky is polarized. But this world is an illusive, evasive lover who skedaddles whenever ever I get close enough to really see, blocking the light as I stick my head down to it to drink it all in.

It’s called specular reflection, in case you’re interested, that phenomenon of the mirror-image appearing on a glossy surface. And water of course has its way with the image pushing it this way and that. During all this obsession, not once have I seen my own face, having to do with the angle of the light in and out that makes the image. The camera, on the other hand, wants to see nothing but its own self if you get close enough to make things interesting. And in close-up it wants to focus on what’s below rather than on the trompe-l’oeil world on the surface.

So I squat and crawl in mud and on slick stones, swatting mosquitoes more or (usually) less successfully, and try to fool the camera into seeing the way my own entranced eye and heart are fooled by an illusion that diffracts and shatters when I get too greedy and too close in my need to touch the water, the world of the bog and the universe all in one glance.

2 thoughts on “Into the Looking Glass

  1. Beautiful, fanciful. Flowing water is intriguing, too. The clear liquid composed of loosely associated water molecules reminds one of the illusion of solidity and seemingly contradictory connectedness in the universe, as well as the continuous change going on. Looks like Buddy was delving into the mystery, too.
    Thanks, Pleun, for your inspiring creation.

    Like

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