Can a self-portrait be defined by the very absence of the subject? In his project The MeError, Leonardo Magrelli (b. 1989, Italy) plays with this question by showing what mirrors reveal when we are not in front of them. The series consists of a collection of photos taken facing a mirror, where the expected reflection is taken away through digital manipulation, creating the illusion of an invisible subject.
Just as we cannot determine the existence of the sound of a tree falling in a forest when no one is around to hear it, we can never observe what a mirror shows when we are not in front of it, as the mirror image is changed immediately by our appearance. Magrelli attempts to change this through his study of digital photography and photo manipulation. In Magrelli’s words: “A medium should be studied and used to show things that no other medium can express … only through the digital manipulation of the image, we are able to see what nor our eyes neither the camera lens could: what mirrors reflect when we are not in front of them.”
By taking away the self (the error of the self – hence the title: ‘Me-Error’), Magrelli exposes a curious relationship between self-portrait and still life. The very absence of the subject turns self-portrait into still life, while at the same time inviting the viewer to pay more attention to the self as a concept, exactly by the denial of the existence of the self in these photos.