The Claude Glass Re-visited: “.. the largest down to the smallest balls of mercury reflect the entire universe.”
To experience wonder mustn’t you be fully aware? And in our too-casual replication of the world isn’t the experience of wonder is lost? My proposal for the Working Wonder conference is to present practice-led research concerned with the possibility of experiencing wonder through the poetic transformation conjured by the Claude glass. Perhaps there is a contemporary naivety that our constant use of digital photography offers us a picture of reality and although there is a continuous flow between reality and digital photography, it replicates and offers a simulacrum but with no heightened awareness. However, if reality is mediated, for example with a Claude glass, this distortion shows us the world as we experience it, through imaginative association rather than as it appears. In my use of the Claude glass, the mirror has a new function from the one originally envisaged when the glass "formed a subtle psychological protection to the tourist freshly exposed to daunting and often disorienting landscapes.” Instead of idealizing the view and rendering nature manageable, my landscape-mirroring device offers a point of axis, a point of consciousness, which transforms through heightened awareness – a tool used to surpass perception. By capturing an image in the hand-held picture surface the world is transformed from one state to another as the cloudy, tinted ‘glass’ distils, exaggerates or edits experience. The captured light and shadow are sufficiently other than the actual experience to offer the contemporary spectator the experience of wonder or "visions of imagination," William Gilpin described.