Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Lucas Samaras—Mirrored Room
Ever since I first saw this piece in the early 1990s, I've wanted to take a photo inside it. It's the perfect apotheosis of narcissism—the preoccupa-tion with yourself in the mirror raised to some astronomically high power—yet virtually every photo I shot in there came out terribly. It's very difficult to capture on film (or pixels, in this case) how strange the feeling is to be inside a ten-by-ten room lined with mirrors—the submarinish green tint to the light, the infinitely retreating images on all sides, the way the line of the corners' meeting always crops out your eyes. The first problem is simply that any time you hold the camera up to shoot, you find you're always in your own way. You lose the peripheral multitudes and all you see is that one single image of yourself, with only a faint halo of other self-images around it. A second, more significant problem is that it's hard to shoot in such a small space without the door—which is propped permanently open—intruding into the frame and spoiling the shot. If it were closed, one could be surrounded purely and wholly by images of only one's self. But then, of course, there wouldn't be any light. Apparently, even in moments of total narcissism, one still has to allow a small gap to let in the outside world.