The Venus Effect

Photographed Mar - May 2013  /  What we see in the mirror: is it real? The Venus effect is named after various paintings of Venus gazing into a mirror, such as Diego Velázquez's ‘Rokeby Venus’ (1647-1651). We assume that Venus is admiring her own reflection in the mirror however we are deceived into thinking this, as actually Venus is looking at the reflection of the painter. Playing on perception, this effect has been used in this body of work and questions self-image. We are unsure whether the mirror is being deceptive or truthful, we can only trust what we see to exist. Mirrors have been used as a symbol of narcissism where this object is used to constantly admire our appearance. However it has also been seen as our nemesis, is it beauty we see, or ugliness? How do we react when we see our reflection? Using influences from 17th century paintings and the drama in stylised film noir cinema inspired by chiaroscuro these photographs explores issues of perception, beauty, identity, consciousness and the gaze.