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Mirror Affect

Seeing Self, Observing Others in Contemporary Art

2016
Author:

Cristina Albu

Mirror Affect

Examining reflective art and its impact on how we see ourselves and fellow spectators

From sculpture and performance to art and technology projects, video art, and installation art, Cristina Albu charts the rise of interpersonal modes of art spectatorship. She provides a historical account of mirroring processes in contemporary art and offers insight into the phenomenological and socio-political concerns that have inspired artists to stage processes of affective, perceptual, and behavioral mirroring between art viewers.

Teeming with insights, Mirror Affect is a long-overdue reevaluation of artworks with mirroring and reflective properties. Cristina Albu argues that the tension between the private and the public, self and other, opens up a conflicted space, but one that is necessary to construct a new, revitalized sense of the social.

Colin Gardner, University of California, Santa Barbara

For decades, contemporary artworks with reflective properties have stimulated public forms of spectatorship. According to Cristina Albu, these artworks, which can include elements such as mirrors, live video feedback, or sensors, draw attention to affective interdependence and mechanisms of social control.

In Mirror Affect, Albu provides a historical account of mirroring processes in contemporary art and offers insight into the phenomenological and sociopolitical concerns that have inspired artists to stage processes of affective, perceptual, and behavioral mirroring between art viewers. Beginning with the 1960s, Albu charts the rise of interpersonal modes of art spectatorship. She reveals contemporary artists’ strategic use of reflective and responsive interfaces to instill doubt in visual representation and appeal to active scrutiny of the changing social dynamics. She suggests that the mirroring processes envisioned by contemporary artists such as Joan Jonas, Dan Graham, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Olafur Eliasson, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer trigger visual disjunctions to upset narcissistic inclinations. They invite viewers to see themselves in relation to others and to ponder their role within complex social systems.

From sculpture and performance to art and technology projects, video art, and installation art, Mirror Affect analyzes forms of interpersonal spectatorship, revising and expanding current historiographies of participatory art.

Mirror Affect

Cristina Albu is assistant professor of contemporary art history and theory at University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Mirror Affect

Teeming with insights, Mirror Affect is a long-overdue reevaluation of artworks with mirroring and reflective properties. Cristina Albu argues that the tension between the private and the public, self and other, opens up a conflicted space, but one that is necessary to construct a new, revitalized sense of the social.

Colin Gardner, University of California, Santa Barbara

Mirror Affect is a detailed and timely analysis of the materiality of contemporary installation art, disclosing how the artworks' mirror structures build intersubjectivity as the spectators experience them.

Christine Ross, author of The Past is the Present; It’s the Future Too: The Temporal Turn in Contemporary Art

Mirror Affect

Contents
Introduction: Seeing Ourselves Seeing
1. Mirror Frames: Spectators in the Spotlight
2. Mirror Screens: Wary Observers under the Radar
3. Mirror Intervals: Prolonged Encounters with Others
4. Mirror Portals: Unpredictable Connectivity in Responsive Environments
Conclusion: Networked Spectatorship
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index