Face (in) the Mirror
       (y)our eyes don't see (y)our face




The inspiration for the project came to me on a winter’s day in South-Africa, while I was sitting with my back against an old oak tree and gazing at its shadow on a bed of green ivy (Figure 8). I was struck by the metaphorical power of this object-independent shadow to illustrate the post-modern paradigm of contextually defined meaning: ‘Are we back in Plato’s cave?’ (Hoedekie, 2003a).

If ‘shadows’ are a metaphor for ‘meaning’, what is the meaning of ‘shadow’, when for a ‘shadow’ it is impossible to cast a ‘shadow’? Does a combination of different shadows reveal more meaning or truth about its object? Can shadows be(come) art? And, what is the role of the shadows in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave?  

 The development of these questions in an MA thesis in philosophy (Hoedekie, 2003a) paralleled a number of practical experiments that resulted in a series of installation-artworks (Figure 9). They included attempts to separate the ‘shadow’ from its object and the progressive superimposition of photographs of an object casting different shadows (Figure 10).

This resulted in the observation that in the course of adding superimpositions, an object gains definition, but only up to a point, after which an effect of saturation or darkening takes place. The experiments affirmed that shadows are essential for seeing and that they do not so much supplant things, as ‘supplement’ them. Also, it illustrated the epistemological limitation of the combination of contextually defined meaning, which Merleau-Ponty called the “plateau of completeness” (In: Todes, 1975: 100). 

Deconstruction : by meeting yourself as another or something else, a trajectory of perspectives upon the self 

Links: Plato’s Cave ¨Blumenberg’s Höhlenausgänge/metaphorology ¨Levinas’ violence ¨Bergson: difference between seeing-knowing ¨Merleau-Ponty: plateau of completess ¨Postmodern doctrine: contextually defined meaning ¨…






Fig. 8 - Shadow on bed of ivy
Fig. 9 - Shadows superimposed
Fig. 10 - Shadows progressively superimposed