Monthly Archives: January 2011

Finding my way in multiplicity

An exhibition of labyrinths the CCCB gallery in Barcelona culminated in a labyrinth of mirrors in which the viewers were invited to become spectators of themselves. In the process of participating there is a constant distrust of the labyrinth’s ability to guide you, and a sense of caution that you are suddenly going to walk into the glass itself. The contrast between air – our reality, and glass – the reflected interpretations of reality, is so slight that any effort to distinguish between them becomes impossible. When you are sucked into the labyrinth contemplating its apparent simplicity if the walls were not mirrors, would be simple, yet when the walls are mirrors, a multitude of reflections, that diverge from the reality of your path confound you sending you astray, unconsciously allowing you to comprehend yourself, to scrutinise your movements, resulting in an intellectualising and therefore a certain artificiality to your movements’ impetus. And this artificiality was in no way lessened by the presence of the camera. In this environment where multiplied reflections distract your wary gaze, there is little ability to concentrate on the labyrinth’s deceptive infinity – although there is only a small amount of mirrors, their amplified reflections induce feedback upon one another, creating an infinite mirror hall: here the condition of space is momentarily subverted, and the deceit of this careful arrangement is ultimately what cons the eye.

…for once the fractured, fragile disparateness of the human condition, those angles that we never experience in their infinite diversity… are united

I am one, yet light and glass renders me divisible, enveloping me in a profusion of entities each isolated, and then merging, each imitating one another with a precision that is alien to invention. Each entity is formed by the reflection in the glass, that is refracted from the glass to my retina. They are divergent, yet contingent upon the presence of me, and the mediated presence of my gaze – reflections that I cannot see are staring in their opposing directions, mirroring my subtlest of reactive impulses: yet if I cannot see them are they there? Are they present without me sparing a thought for them? It is those unwatched reflections, those hidden glances that I cannot meet that are forgotten in the moment, and are foreign to the definite; they are left to presence, they are gaps filled by the brain, for the human vision cannot regard the infinite multiplicity of a hall of mirrors indefinitely, it can only converge an element of that multiplicity. It is complex, yet not entirely impossible to distinguish between the real, and the refracted; to ascertain that subtlest of divergences from reality. Further away, when the reflections become dilated or contracted the contrast in apparent; yet those, closer to are harder to distinguish, save for the slight misting of the mirrors – that subtlest of sheens resulting in an alterity of opacity. Sometimes the real, becomes the reflection, and the reflection the real. And I am oblivious to it.

These conditions lead me to thoughts concerning multiplicity.

Is it the experience of multiplicity that for a moment allows us to comprehend, for once the fractured, fragile and disparateness of the human condition, those elements, those angles that we never experience in their infinite diversity, so that their complex and multifaceted variety, are, at once, united into a coherent whole? A divided self, that for a moment can be viewed from all its angles multiply.