Friday, 15 April 2011

Emma Sailah's Mirror Mirror project

Sailah is a photographer based in Sydney. Mirror Mirror is the title of her current and defining body of work, and is best described by her:
"Mirror Mirror project is part of an ongoing body of work that explores identity, voyeurism, and self-expression through innovative photographic techniques and practices. The project consists of a series of portraits and video footage shot through a two-way mirror as individuals sit alone in front of their reflection. The subjects became unintended exhibitionists, allowing the work to question an individual’s sense of self, private personas, and the nature of spectatorship." 

©All images copyright Emma Sailah.

For each session the participant would sit in complete isolation for 30 minutes whilst Sailah photographed them. Equally interesting to the images is the video footage which displays subjects reaction and then self-conscious presentation as 'unintended exhibitionists' as their pictures are repeatedly taken. See more here.

The relevance of Sailah's project to my own, is not just in its use of a two-way mirror, but in its exploration into a person's encounter with their reflection. In my research presentation I argued that engaging with a mirror is a naturally captivating experience, one that all people respond to in some way.  Would the poses and the expressions of Sailah's subjects be the same if they were just looking at a camera lens, as in a straight portrait?

Sailah states that her work aims to question individual's private personas, similarly I am looking to investigate the play and balance between the expression of private and public selves. The difference is that where Sailah's work adopts a voyeuristic process, mine will exhibit the rehearsed and controlled performance of self-portraiture.

On a purely technical note – I am drawn to the simplicity of Sailah's lighting. The grey background and balanced illumination allow the viewer to focus on the subject (she also took inspiration from Robbie Cooper - as mentioned on her blog). Compositionally – I will probably go for a tighter crop as my work is primarily about the facial performance.

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