'He make in the mirror no reflect': undead aesthetics and mechanical reproduction -'Dorian Gray', 'Dracula', and David Reed's 'vampire painting'
In this chapter I attempt to uncover the origins of the non-reflection motif and interrogate the vampire’s complex relationship to this optical phenomenon. I focus, to begin with, on Stoker’s handwritten notes for Dracula where the vampire’s lack of a reflection or shadow is first located and where this conceit is extended to include its image in photography and painting.8 From this, I develop the notion of ‘vampire painting’ in the writings of Pater and Wilde, and interrogate Dracula and Dorian Gray in relation to the idea of reproduction, and tensions around realism and mimesis, drawing on Benjamin’s analysis of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and his theorisation of the outmoded. I conclude with a discussion of the contemporary artist David Reed whose abstract painting is offered up as another version of non-reflection. Reed has responded directly to Stoker’s Dracula notebooks in his own ‘vampire painting’, creating a compelling homage to the unmirrorable figure of the vampire.