Carl Bergman


Mirrors captivate our attention with the promise of offering a private glimpse into what others see in us. Why we matter. 

At times our reflection serves to celebrate and heighten our sense of self. Other times a mere glance is enough to send us swerving down a highway of despair and self pity. Do we matter?

I smile at a mirror and in turn am rewarded with a smirk. I sulk and face an angry, relentless stare.
How do I feel? Finding out for myself sounds hard and final, even. I think I'll rather go and consult a shiny surface, shiny surface on the wall.




 

note:

At the time of shooting, I was in Sucre, Bolivia. An alien city to me - surrounded by strangers and doubts. I felt homesick and irritated by my slow advances in studying spanish. I was burnt out on meaningless small talk that every english speaking person, myself included seemed to be indulging in. Every time I stepped out onto the buzzing streets people would react to me, just like they always do - everywhere. If there was negativity or worry present in my expression, the reaction would mirror that. If I smiled and welcomed someone near me with kind eyes, they'd usually return the favor. Others ignored me in a determined fashion, which, well, really is a reaction in its own right. What you give out is mirrored back at you right after passing through the subject's own personal filters.

I wanted to explore what I was giving out of myself to my surroundings so I decided to study that by making a series of self portraits, using other people as substitutes for mirrors. While coming up with the idea, I was struck by the realization of what I was about to do - I was seeking to objectify the people around me in order to stare at my own reflection. It sounded ugly, narcissistic, even brutal and all the while in my mind it underlined the base idea beautifully, the loop of self awareness, filtered through to the surface, then projected onto another human being and then back makes up the base of our social interaction.

As far as aesthetics and execution goes, I wanted to include a glass surface into the pictures as both a visual element and in order to further objectify the people I photographed - to push the possibility of touch out of the frame. The choice of subjects riding public transportation was thus a simple one. I posted up at different bus stops around the city and to ensure reactions I made it a point to engage in eye contact with the subject before taking a picture of myself in their reaction.


Back to Top