Curated Materials — Xin Er
The photo is deliberately framed to zoom-in on a close-up of the subject, suggesting Coiffaits’ intention of putting the attention to solely the subject alone. The photo is mainly black and white with low hues, creating depth between the brighter regions and the darker shadows. Continuation can be applied here where the eye is compelled to move between her real face and the abnormality created by the artificial pieces of photos.
The image depicts the subject holding up 2 pieces of pictures, attempting to hide her real face to present her ‘more flawless” side to the public. It seems to resemble the current trend where people are obsessed with portraying their most ‘perfect’ outwards self to the world. It also exposes the sense of obligation the society have — that we need to look good in front of others.
To me, this is a form of narcissism in practice, whereby we are so concerned with trying to be ‘more perfect’. We are conscious to display the best part of ourselves, especially on social media platforms. It inspires the artistic direction of our project — where we aim for our photos to be able to relate to the public as easily as Coiffaits’ did.
The Historical Perspective: This painting arises out of a depiction of Greek mythology, where Echo falls in love with Narcissus but he rejected her advances. He was thus cursed to only fall in love with himself (the reflection), and eventually drowned because he was unable to leave his beautiful reflection.
‘Narcissism’ was therefore coined to refer to a fixation with the image that one portrays to others.
Constructivism is at work where the viewer first identifies that context of this picture — garden, then move along to identify the subjects in the picture. The different hue in clothes also makes the subjects more identifiable.
In Waterhouse’s painting, we can also see that Narcissus’ absorption in his own reflection makes him completely oblivious to the girl who loves him. I find this painting well composed as compared to the composition of Narcissus by Caravaggio.
Even though I feel that Caravaggio’s painting is more powerful in depicting Narcissus’ love for his own image, Waterhouse’s painting better composed to show the effect of that act on the people around him. This helps in composition for our project — trading a greater impact of the narcissistic act itself so as to show its effects on others.