In the 60’s Nico’s lyrics for the Velvet Underground reflected the narcissism of a generation and epitomized the self-absorbed escapism of Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory.
The Velvet Underground & Nico. Retrieved 3/15/2012, from http://www.metrolyrics.com/ill-be-your-mirror-lyrics-velvet-underground.html.
With its shiny aluminum foil walls, Warhol’s “studio” exalted the studio space, previously a private inner sanctum of creation, as a mirror of, or at least a signifier of the artist and identified “self-representational strategies as vital in the reception of the artist’s work.” (Noyez, 2011)One can easily imagine Silver Clouds (Warhol. 1966) as they waft through this studio of the artist ego. Surrounded by adoring “groupies” these helium filled pillows reflect back the studied glances of the converted and aspiring. While filled with a fine mix of helium and oxygen it is clearly artist ego that keeps these balloons afloat. Buoyed by a sense of self believe they are given form by the breath artist breath – inflating them beyond their own potential.
In contrast with Warhol’s original piece in which people playfully interact with the inflated balloons Charlton’s work engages the audience in the inflation of each balloon. Blowing into exhalant devices their breath is the genesis of forms that appear in the vacuum of the digital frame. If Warhol’s balloons were tumescent with the artist sense of self, then Charlton’s forms are clearly the domain of the participants.
A party at Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory. Retrieved 3/15/2012, from http://criticalissuesintheculturalindustries.wordpress.com/studio/
Spawned into the digital void each balloon is a clone distinguished only by the image of the participant reflected in them they aimless intermingle with each other, content in their own social network. Occasionally colliding with each other they eventually expire – leaving a momentary trail of pixels.
In this online hyperlinked social-networked world the images we make of ourselves are as evasive and as temporal as Charlton’s balloons.
If Nico’s lyrics can be seen as offer by the self assured artist to turn a mirror on the world for it to better see its self, then Charlton’s Be My Mirror is a pathetic plea for recognition in which the artist insecurely begs for self revelation rather than promising epiphany.