'All Is Vanity' at Bonclarken

I'm using this old optical illusion for Saturday's retreat message at Bonclarken. I remember seeing it in my grandfather's study.

The artist Adad Hannah has done a 21st century version that is also more than meets the eye:

In the BMO Project Room, Hannah has reconstructed Gilbert’s nineteenth-century optical illusion with his own rendering of All Is Vanity in high-definition video using a custom-built set. In this version there is no mirror – the oval of the vanity is an empty wooden frame – and Hannah casts twins to perform the woman and her reflection, a way of creating the appearance of a mirror where there is only an empty opening. The vertical video on the plasma screen is an 11-minute 46-second continuous shot: Hannah posed the twins across from each other and asked them to remain as still as

possible for the duration of the piece. The blinking and breathing of the twins becomes evidence of time passing, which breaks the static nature of Gilbert’s original drawing and reminds viewers of their own existence within the flux of space and time. The mise-

en-scène is recreated within the exhibition space, with all elements of the set – furniture, carpet, curtains, lights, video camera – preserved and displayed in the room.

Read more Here (a PDF Download), and click through to see video of the installation.


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