© 2019 Nassim Rad

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Vidi, vici

This series of images set the traditional aspects of photography in relationship with Jacques Lacan’s “Stade du miroir” and also in conjunction with the visual and societal aspects of 21st century life. My intention is to not only show the dichotomies of the ‘picture taking’ process itself, but the psychological aspect of how people physically identify themselves vis-à-vis their looks in different kinds of reflections; such as photographs and mirrors. In conducting this exercise, the resulting body of work has helped to form a critical theory on self-perception.

Set in the studio, I shot these photographs within a self-built mirror installation. Each portraited person was able to experience their fictional vis-à-vis in a vivid manner, seeing themselves from different angles, experiencing live different versions of their appearances. The choice of camera was a Hasselblad 502 CW, which works with a waist-level finder. This made it impossible for me to see my models since being forced to look down in the camera. By solely detecting them through reflections and fragments the images hold both a sense of irreality and analysis of the self.

Since the body serves as our primary communication tool to the outside world, our appearance has a major influence on our own lives and, indeed, the lives of others. We learn how to control our body’s effects because we live in a society with specifically defined rules of expected behaviour. Furthermore, we become conditioned to regularly checking our appearance and we do as a natural habit throughout the course of each day. We do this by using physical surfaces that offer reflection such as mirrors, windows, and smartphones, to name a few examples.

I demonstrated this phenomenon in a mirror study conducted in Bielefeld, Germany. In this case, I observed pedestrians passing by a large mirror in a typical urban street setting. The results of this experiment were enlightening. Within one hour, approximately 1,000 people walked past the mirror and, of this population, one out every 10 used the mirror to check his or her own appearance. It should be mentioned that, demographically, the results were spread across all age groups and sexes; young, old, male, and female.