AUTOMATON

video – installation

The video – installation was made for the exhibition ‘Capturing Metamorphoses’, curated by Alena Alexandrova, Vladimir Stissi and Martine van Kampen at the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, 2010.

“In your eyes I mirror myself. I can dive into them for a long time. A bright light is welcoming me. Even though I see a depth, I am shifting between floating on your gaze and breaking through the wall of your outside. Your physical appearance is a shield, which protects you, which protects us from each other. If there is no place to hide, to play around, no hull, I would never be able to come closer to you […] In a moment you will decide to go, to disappear. When your eyes will no longer follow me our encounter will end. The intimacy is interrupted […] But only within this friction I feel identity, – yours, mine. We are no longer two identities…” 

(original text fragment for the video, written by Barbara Philipp)

In a small dark space, like in a photo booth, a chair is placed in front of a mirror. When the visitor presses the lightened button under the mirror, the video begins to play and a face appear. While sitting in front of the mirror the face in the video and the face of the spectator fusion into a single image. The face in the video looks straight at the visitor. If the visitor interrupts the eye contact and stands up to leave the space, the film stops and only the mirror image of the visitor remains as a witness of his/her leaving. In the context of the exhibition where the work was shown the installation referred to the monstrosity of Medusa’s look, leading to petrifaction.

The shared gaze of the stranger and the visitor binds them and merges them into one identity. The intimate gesture of facing each other exposes an inner confrontation. This forms the subject of the stranger’s shared thoughts. At a certain point the man’s image disappears. The visitor’s male counterpart in the mirror is replaced by a female counterpart. Images and sound are not synchronised, as an inner monologue/dialogue is involved rather than a spoken one.