Ever since in many different cultures all over the world “Back Mirrors” were luxurious objects of desire. They were popular and profitable commodities and from Mexico to India a desirable product for artists, magicians and scientists. Like the Greek term Téchne explains: Black Mirrors ought to allow insight into the connection of art, science and technique.
Nowadays all knowledge is digitized and can be reduced to binary codes, thus Téchne understood in this contemporary frame has reached a new topicality.
Back in time the Aztecs used black mirrors made from back volcanic lava for the practics of clairvoyance and healing. Through conquering the „New World“ conquerors also acquired knowledge of glass made from lava, to use it for anatomic staging and occult activity. Since the age of the Renaissance European painters and architects - from Leonardo to Lorrain – used black or shaded mirrors to focus on a certain composition or perspective. Here colorlessness also helped to gain new inspiration and relaxation for the eye in order to revitalize the artistic vision. The American physician Pascal B. Randolph made use of back mirrors believing in their mystical power, the artists Manet, Matisse, Sutherland, Gerhard Richter and many more relied on black mirrors as a portal of deeper reflection of the self, that was able to show more than the obvious. They are capable of capturing sensations: The up and down of melancholy and euphoria or the syncopation of creativity.
The „Black Mirror“ became an optical instrument, a tool for the artist to dim colors and sharpen perspectives. It does so not by creating a realistic illusion, but by alienating the own perception. The black shading is lack and exorbitance at the same time, it offers a different form of representation. One which is clearly a reflection of the self still not in a narcissistic way. To look into a black mirror means to discover and face a phantom of the self, a phantom of our own film noir.
The black mirrors of these days hang on every wall, stand on every table and are held in every hand: They are the digital surfaces of our TVs, computers and smartphones. We live in a time, where digital and the industrial modern age are clashing and where we have to get used to an ongoing acceleration of receiving information. Everywhere screens are surrounding us and are constantly trying to communicate and update us with more and more information. Time for peace and rest seems to be less important, it seems we have given up privacy for the unlimited exposure of ourselves.
In a society where technology had become an omnipresent drug, the package insert gets in focus. Medial impact seems to shape a new form of existence; the question of the „side effects“ must be considered and becomes more and more essential.