The Image in a Reflection: Mimetic Experiences in Everyday Life and Contemporary Art

Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis


  • Evelina Januškaitė-­Krupavičė Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania



reflection, mimesis, imago, ephemerality, image, (non)recording medium


The paper analyses the phenomenon entitled as “(non)recording medium”, the phenomenological experience of which and the subjective relation with the mirror image of the Self are reflected on from the per- spectives of psychoanalysis, phenomenology, philosophy, and media theory. By interpreting the works of visual art that use reflexive surfaces, the paper analyses the representational-mimetic function of reflection in the contemporary culture of visual over-abundance. By using the notions of ‘the Real’ and ‘illusion’ as the key parameters, the paper analyses the introspective state that emerges in front of the non-recording surface, the viewer as the Other self and their experience of the Real. Here psychoanalysis acts through the Other self the image of which is reflected on the surface, phenomenology—through the sensual and temporal experience of the subjective reality, while the image itself is but a mimetic copy of the experienced object inscribed in the consciousness of the viewer. The paper introduces the definition of the ephemeral, transformed and ever-changing act of mimesis where the spontaneous—and volatile—nature of an image unfolds. By questioning the similarity and representation, the paper rethinks the shift of mimesis from the classical understanding of the imitation of reality to the modern understanding of the Real as volatile and temporal. Here the mimetic experience manifests through the combination of impermanence and temporality in art which, through the interaction between the subject’s consciousness, memory and imagination, turns imago into a non-recordable mask of the subject. The ephemerality of the image implies the essential experience of the present where the Real is reduced to an appearance, while a constantly self-positing consciousness shapes the individual experience and thus affects the visuality itself. Therefore a visual reflection should be regarded as one of the categories of contemporaneity which functions as a radical form of reductive mimesis which exists beyond the limits of representative acts—it condenses the perceived Real and is strengthened through temporal dimension and the over-abundance of the images of fleeting presence. The paper aims to specify the notion of mimesis which, while still imprisoned in antiquity, is now often replaced with other terms, and is largely ignored by the art theoretical discourse. The paper discusses the examples where it unfolds via different artistic means: Asukas (2018) by Beatričė Mockevičiūtė, Pre-consciousness (2017) by Paulius Rainys, and The Continuity of Presence in the Past (1974) by Dan Graham. By tempo- rarily capturing the parameters of the ever-changing Real, these experiential installations are positioned as visual screens that transmit the fleeting present. The paper actualises the question of (un)reality of an image—just like an artwork, a mirror posits a false—fictional—replica of the subjective Real: in other words, it is an imitation, or mimetic reality. The paper concludes that we are both what we see and how we are seen by others: we no longer reflect on the images, but rather are images.



How to Cite

Januškaitė-­Krupavičė, E. (2019). The Image in a Reflection: Mimetic Experiences in Everyday Life and Contemporary Art: Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (96), 308–333.