Mirror with a Memory

Mirror with a memory 1

When we look in the mirror, our reflection is only momentary. It lasts only as long as we look at it. Therefore it is fickle and fleeting. So, how can we say that a mirror has a memory, which can stop time and preserve it forever?

It is possible when we think of the oldest photographs, the daguerreotypes. They were, at the time of their invention, called mirrors blessed with memory. While looking at the pictures many observers were surprised, because they had not seen such a realistic reproduction yet. People actually stood speechless in front of daguerreotypes, and hoped that the person in the mirror wouldn't see their inappropriate behavior. Today we might call them magical, not only based on how people at that time perceived them, but also on the fact that the essence lies both in the appearance of our ancestors, and ourselves. It is a time loop, which in one scene connects the appearance of people across almost two centuries.

Their magic lies also in the gradual emergence of human traits. The picture is variable, at times it seems like a negative image, but from the right angle the human form emerges in an incredible picture quality. To take the daguerreotype in your hands is a holiday, but also a ritual. It lies in our personal contribution to the search for the image in the mirror. What surprises us is not only the quality, but also the special closeness of the person inside. We feel that the features of this face and attitude are somehow immediately familiar. We don'ta mirror with a memory back have this experience, while looking at classic photography or painted portraits.

In this beautiful book Mirror with a memory, the oldest portrait photographs in Slovakia 1840-1850, the authors come to the core of the daguerreotypes. We step back in time and see history and present at the same time through the portraits in the mirror.

The exhibition and publication are part of the realization of the research and educational project KEGA, "Renaissance of Historical Photographic Techniques of the 19th century".


For more information or ordering the book go to Central European House of Photography in Bratislava. www.sedf.sk