In this post, I will cover Task 1, 2 and 3, in the exact same order as mentioned.
I will explain how I have subverted the object and given meaning to my images. I will also mention the types of angles shot with and how they have helped with the message I was trying to convey to the audience.
[ Given Object ]
The object that I was assigned with was a mirror. Your typical, everyday mirror can usually be found in or at the side of a car, the bathroom, your cosmetic pouch, in the bedroom and many other places. Those were just a few places to be mentioned which one would usually associate the object with.
It can vary from size to size but the typical usage of a mirror is to reflect the appearance of something or someone, usually with 100% accuracy, in a conventional context.
Our goal for this project was to completely subvert the meaning of our object, making the object non-conventional in its usual context.
[ Critique Day Set-Up ]
This was how my images were set up on Project 2 critique day.
[ Task 1 – Denotation ]
For task 1, we had to capture our object’s physical attributes, properties, and functions in 3 images. With my object, the mirror, I wanted to display both its physical attributes and function in a normal context but in a more whimsical way than how people usually perceive.
For the images mentioned below, they appear to make up a series of multiple mirrors (more than one); therefore, not only reflecting one another but also the environment surrounding them in their surfaces.
Here, in image 1, I have positioned and set up three mirrors in a way that they reflect and jumble up the typical appearance of a room. In the mirror lying on the ground, the image being reflected appears to be the room’s ceiling. In the mirror leaning against the wall, the image conveyed appears to be the mirror lying on the floor but the reflection seen in that particular mirror does not correlate within. A mere glimpse of another mirror’s edge on the very side can be seen to reflect one of the walls in the room. Overall, the reflections should confuse you in a way that you would not be able to know where to place your focus on throughout the entire photo’s composition. The reason as to why this occurs in this manner is because I had decided to place a sheet of orange paper covering one side of the room from the ‘mirror’s view.’ Eventually, all that particular mirror standing upright reflects is the blank orange color composing the sheet of paper instead of a side of the room it is placed in. Even throughout this comical constant reflecting back and forth, your eyes are drawn to the physical properties of the mirror, the fact that it can only reflect things with the aid of light and that its physical appearance is basically a square; where the sleek lines all eventually lead up to a certain point or sharp edge. The image demonstrates its purpose, that the object’s job is to reflect, but not necessarily what you think you may see when several mirrors are joined in such a way.
This shot was from a slightly raised angle looking downwards to give you a peek of the mirror’s reflection that is lying on the ground. It also allows your eyes to focus on both the bottom and top mirror at the same time in comparison to just focusing your attention on the mirror that stands perpendicular to the ground.
Since this image belongs with the same series, there has to be continuity with a similar message from the previous image. For this image, I simply placed two mirrors perpendicular to the ground as they both reflect one another. In order to capture this, I had to tilt one of the mirrors at an angle to demonstrate the constant repetitiveness of one mirror in another — just like a portal leading to nowhere or a blackhole infinitely never ending. With my mom’s hand holding the other end of the same mirror I appear to be holding onto in the photo, I captured the image oddly in a sense; cutting of my mom’s hand so that only a reflection can be seen in the mirror leaning against the wall. Again, there is a sense of dilemma or confusion at first sight since both hands do not appear to be exactly in front of one another to reflect. Either way, our brain makes sense that there is probably another hand on the other side since we are so used to contextualizing the fact that mirrors reflect with 100% accuracy. The physical properties of a conventional mirror, again, can be seen. A mirror would typically have one side that reflects with the other that is covered on its surface. We can see the backing of the mirror that is held by the hand and the contrasting reflecting surface of the other. The arrangement of mirrors are placed in this manner and the image was captured this way to deride your eyes from the clutter in image 1. I wanted the audience to note that the objects displayed actually are mirrors in a sense through its simple physical appearance it takes of a square.
The image is taken at a slightly higher angle to give the perception of peeking into something as if intruding in a repetitive cycle.
With image 3, I placed three mirrors in a cube-like formation with an open side in order for me to capture the image. The photo was taken from a bottom to top angle as I placed my hand on the edge of one of the mirrors. Again, with the idea of confusion, I twisted the idea of symmetry through the use of my hand. Our hands are usually not symmetrical if we were to draw a principal axis down the middle. With the reflections seen in the mirrors if seen closely, the top half of the left side of my hand is perfectly accurate to the right side. What may at first seem natural (a hand), may actually turn out odd if perceived up close (a hand with the thumb and pinkie finger being the same length and width). With the idea of disorder, the wrist area that is being reflected do not appear symmetrical at all. Throughout the entire image, one message is constantly being reminded; mirrors are commonly thought to reflect things with 100% accuracy but yet again what people do not think about is that if taken at various angles, this may not be true after all.
[ Task 2 – Connotation ]
For this task, we had to completely subvert the object’s original context. So, to change the original context of a mirror, which is to reflect exactly what is in front of it, I simply did the opposite. Instead, I changed the mirror’s setting and context where everything that is supposed to reflect, does not follow through in any way.
With task 2, I decided to research on the history of mirrors. What commonly came up within my research were myths and legends associated with the object over time. Such ideas have become widely stipulated as to whether they are true.
The majority of myths and legends surrounding the mirror were negative and would typically consist of horror scenes. So this was what I set out my theme for task 2 to focus on; horror in a subtle yet comical way.
In order for the below-mentioned images to play out the way I wanted them to, I had to use Adobe Photoshop to create the effects which I will explain under each image.
It is with image 1 that I wanted to portray the myth of Bloody Mary. Legend says that if you stand in front of a mirror, mention her name thrice while at the same time, lighting up a candle, she will appear at your calling. In this image, the subversion can be seen since the reflection of the bloodied candle does not correlate within the mirror. Instead, what appears to be a birthday cake with a candle that has been lit takes its place. The area where the picture is taken at is engulfed in darkness to demonstrate an unsettling feeling as well as aid in your eyes’ focus to only look at the only apparent objects in the entire image’s composition; the shards of mirrors surrounding the candle, the bloodied candle (representative of Mary herself), the mirror’s sharp and sleek edges as well as the cake with a candle stuck in it. The darkness is also seen as isolation; as if something sinister is going on behind closed doors and the fact that you are intruding into something you have not been invited to. It seems as though you are peeking into the environment without being noticed. The mirror’s edges are also highlighted by the candle light’s glow to remind you of the object and that the entire context has been changed. Amongst all this, I wanted to convey the message that a candle’s size can differ whether the context is either happy or horrific. When a candle is thick and heavy weighted, you usually think of it as used for prayers or some kind of meditative ritual; something associated with spirits. To further emphasize this and the fact that you are calling out a spirit, the mirror shards are arranged in a circular manner around the thick bloodied candle. The fact that it is in a circular path surrounding the candle reminds one on the thought of performing a ritual as people circumambulate and chant. On the other hand, when a candle is thin in width and long in height, you would usually think of a birthday candle of sorts, associated with something celebratory like someone’s birthday — a typical human celebration for the coming of age.
Image 2 is a take on the legend of Narcissus. The old myth is based on Greek superstition that it was unlucky to see your own reflection. Narcissus was a beautiful young man who, one day at the river banks, saw his own reflection in the rivers’ waters, fell in love with his own beauty and drowned by falling in. Here, the mirror is subverted to become a ‘river.’ Both have reflective surfaces in a way. A pool of water is poured onto the mirror’s surface to further emphasize or give hints towards the legend. Liquify on Photoshop was used to create this pulling effect as I had stretched the effect from both sides (face and pool of water) to meet in the middle with some areas overlapping to give the perception of the struggle and force of stretching and pulling inwards towards the mirror or ‘river’. The pool of water appears to be pulling my face towards it, in a literal sense, with a strong force as if not letting go and drowning me in; just like the legend of Narcissus. This further emphasizes the obsession some have with oneself. The edge at which my arm touches the mirror’s edge does not seem to match up symmetrically either defying the typical 100% accuracy in reflection idea. Within the mirror’s reflection, you can see some of my facial features yet this does not appear the same on my face as it seems to be wiped out in a way. The photo is taken with a straight angle shot so that there are no other effects to distract what is happening right in front of you.
Image 3 isn’t focused on a particular individual in the history of mirror legends and myths. Instead, for this image, I wanted to portray the saying that if somebody dies in a particular room which holds a mirror, it is said that the mirror should be covered up with a cloth since it has trapped the person’s soul within. If the mirror is left uncovered, the soul may try to escape and decide to haunt. The choice in the cloth color was intentional. It is white to represent innocence but this innocence is outweighed by something sinister which is the darkness that surrounds the rest of the photograph’s composition. You can see the black outweighs the white. The material is rugged and rough to demonstrate no smooth sailing thoughts and that everything is going in all the wrong ways. The hand is placed in extremely high focus to represent the spirit or trapped soul trying to escape the mirror. Most of the mirror is covered with the cloth yet a third of it seems to have dropped in an unintentional sense. The image was taken from a lower angle to create a dominance sense that the hand seems to portray — as if overpowering. The towel is wrapped in curves with the middle lining up straight towards the hand so that your eye drifts immediately to it.
[ Task 3 – Text & Image ]
For task 3, we could pick freely which image to pick and change the reading of through the use of text.
For my poster, I had chosen to change the meaning of my first image in Task 2. With the idea of a birthday cake in the mirror’s reflection as a bloodied candle lies standing in the dark, I wanted to portray the idea of a horror spirit being celebrated which would not typically happen. People would usually run away with fear if they even heard the name Bloody Mary; not by celebrating her birth in any way. The poster is demonstrated in a portraiture layout and the font is placed in such a way to resemble a birthday card layout. Overall, it changes the meaning of the original image since before it was only differentiating a joyous event from a horrific spiritual one. This time around a connection is made with the both through the use of words — celebrating what is supposed to be terrifying making the entire thing comedic in a sense.