Sometimes, we see magic everyday

Every once in a while, I come across something that fascinates me so much, words cannot begin to describe. Not like an obsession, but a healthy, pure, fascination. I actually don't experience them as much as I like, because I like taking things apart and figuring out what makes them tick. If I can't figure out why something does what it does, it just fascinates the hell out of me. And once it does, I start to sort of play this game where I try to understand how it works, knowing full well that I never will and my mind is, in effect, blown every time. But the best thing about these "somethings" is that the not knowing, the fascination, the inability to understand... it makes me happy.

Reflections are like that for me. I understand that certain surfaces reflect light in a certain way, be they flat or concave, and that sometimes - most of the time - that results in a copy of yourself, or various objects that are placed near the reflective surface. But as much as I "get" it, I don't get it even more.

Take you, for example. When you look in a mirror, you see your reflection. It's you, but it's not. What you see is an illusion, but it's real. It copies your every move... like a shadow, but with a face, and definition. Reflections contradict everything ever. No 2 snowflakes are the same, but look. A perfect doppelganger is staring right back at you. They reflect depth and yet have none. A mirror could reflect a truth, but the very fact that it's a reflection makes it a lie.

Is your mind blown yet? It may just be me, but this love for reflections has been a type of gateway for me. It's really gotten me into art and photography. A fascination for reflections led to a respect for those who seemed to capture the magic. I'm rubbish myself, but I've been able to get into works of other great artists due to my fascination.

Take my favorite artist, M.C. Escher, for example. The first drawing I saw of his was the Hand with Reflecting Sphere. It was love at first sight. Something about how he was able to so perfectly capture the magic of a reflection... how he seemingly uses it to open up this entire world we wouldn't be able to see, were it not for the sphere. And then there's the lie factor. He's drawn a reflection, taken something unreal and made it even more unreal. A lie of a lie. And you have to trust him. Going in, knowing you're looking at a drawing of a reflection - a lie of a lie - you have to trust that that's what that room really looks like, that that's what HE really looks like. Because who knows? Reflections are tricky like that.

Salvador Dali's "Swans Reflecting Elephants" is a great example of this. Jordan showed me this last night, and I absolutely love it. Another entrancing thing about reflections is they could be so much more than what we see. There could be a whole world on the other side of that mirror, a parallel world with subtle differences that change everything. Every time you look in a mirror, someone on the other side could be asking themselves if you're real, or just a reflection of light. Improbable? Sure. But fascinating and intriguing none the less, and Dali captures it so perfectly. It took me a little while before I saw it, but once I did... I gained that much more respect for him. It's a reflection but it reveals so much more.

Photography also reveals a lot of fascinating aspects of reflections, the most prevalent being how different angles reveal different things. Take this shot of John Barrowman* for example. Perhaps there's some science or mathamatical voodoo that explains why he reflects the way he does but, looking at the shot, I would not have guessed it would reflect that way. The way he faces the camera, you would think only his back would be reflected, but instead we see almost a perfect profile of his face. To me, that adds tons more depth to the photo, and gives it more layers. It tells you more about how he's sitting, where the camera is positioned, things that would be slightly skewed had the mirror not been there. And it's not just mirrors. Reflections from windows, water, types of stone, all reveal so much more to the looker, as if opening another world.

And perhaps that's what the whole fascination comes down to. Whether it's a literal new world, or just something you wouldn't have seen had there not been some means of reflection present, there is so much going on there than just a mere light illusion. And for that reason, I hope I never truly understand them. There's so much beauty in not knowing, and we completely miss it because we're so hungry to understand.

Knowledge is great, but sometimes, a little bit of ignorance can be magical.

*I used this picture, not because it was Barrowman, but because it was the shot that spurred on the discussion I had with Jordan last night that led to this blog. I'm nothing if not grateful.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS