MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

 

Humanity has been more than slightly obsessed about how we look ever since Narcissus gazed down into the limpid pool and fell in love with his own reflection. It’s no surprise then that mirrors hold an endless fascination for us. Mythology abounds with them; vampires have no reflection in them and breaking one will garner you seven year’s bad luck. There are the magic mirrors of fairy-tales and the mirrors found in literary works. There are the creepy mirrors of horror stories and the mirrors that are an analogy used to reflect our fragile egos and serve to assist in the further understanding of our complex personalities.

Mirrors it would seem also hold an endless fascination for artist Leonardo Magrelli, an Italian photographer based in Rome, who studied design at La Sapienza University. His current project The MeError plays with the ideas around the perception of the self, most specifically the absence of the self and the resultant effect on reality (or the perception of reality) when one is not present in a room photographed through a mirror. Magrelli takes all of his photos without a person, the subject experiencing the room, gazing back into the mirror. His work explores the psychological juxtaposition of the physical-self when it is absent in the exterior world we inhabit. What does it mean when there is no self to witness the self?

“The MeError project shows what mirrors reflect when we are not in front of them. It consists of a series of photos taken facing a mirror, so we should see ourselves reflected in it, but we don’t – as if we were invisible. The result is real images, that exist in the world, but that we can never witness, for we are their own interference,” said Magrelli.

“In fact, we will never be able to observe directly what a mirror shows when we are not facing it, because every time we step in front of it, the image that was reflected a moment before is modified by our appearance. Only disappearing, we can observe reality without alterations.”

 

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

MeError by Leonardo Magrelli | Yellowtrace

 

Magrelli questions the very nature of what a portrait is. What is a self-portrait when you take away the reflection of the self in the mirror?

“Thus self-portrait and still life collide, creating images that are both the things and none at the same time. In fact, up to where is it legitimate to speak of a portrait? Each one of these pictures premise it and is the result of the cancellation of a self-portrait. Yet is our very absence, an absence that turns these images into still lives, that triggers the mechanism of the picture,” he says.

Magrelli also explores the nature of our personal discomfort in front of a camera. His photographs investigate what occurs when you remove the image of the self from the mirror only showing the still life sans the self-image. He argues the unease of being photographed has lessened today with the worldwide proliferation of the “Selfie”. But even with our new Narcissistic bent towards endlessly photographing ourselves, he claims we still don’t fully recognise the person we have captured in the lense of our phones. Certainly the selfie version we manipulate to put online is often a different person entirely to the one that might be candidly captured, warts and all.

“Equally relevant is the sensation of unease that some people – me included – feels in front of a camera. A discomfort that less and less people experience today, in the era of selfies, and that probably comes when we look at our own image, in which not always we can fully recognize ourselves. Thus, the error, the disappearing of the self (Me-Error), the acknowledgement of ourselves as disturbing elements and the denial of our own image. A self-portrait that becomes still-life,” comments Magrelli.

Is Leonardo Magrelli‘s work about denial of our physical selves or of our emotional, egoic selves? Do we cease to exist if we cannot tangibly recognise our own physical self? Are we more than just our physicality imposed upon a moment in space and time? And is there perhaps more that we can learn from observing a space instead of trying to impose our own self into the matrix?

 

 


[Images © Leonardo Magrelli.]

 

About The Author

Susanna McArdle

Susanna has a background in Interior Architecture and a passion for writing. Based in Sydney, she has worked both in Asia and Australia designing. An avid writer, it’s hard to know what she prefers more, stringing words together or creating spaces. But one thing she does know, is that she loves doing the both together.

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