Sylvia Plath creates a mirror that without preconceptions stays faithful to its perceiver, reflecting reality, aiming at a direct and truthful manifesta- tion of the surrounding immediate moment.

The silver and exact employs temporality in perception.

The silver and exact swallows what it sees and casts that imagery back without any alteration, perceiving everything for what it is.

Plath’s anguished character continually returns to the mirror for truth. The viewer asks the silver and exact for an objective, unadulterated re- flection of self, despite being discomfiting, causing her “tears and an ag- itation of hands,” she only receives a continuum of change.

Plath’s metaphor participates in defining one of the unsurpassable
conceptions of modern philosophy — perception. Unfolding in a context of meaningfulness, perception is responsive to the experienced past and anticipates future responses to it. As Plath suggests, the irreversible continuum of change is charged with our field of experience and the horizons of our expectation. 

Linda Hofvander responds to this loaded, surrounding moment by cre- ating spatial metaphors. She creates and recreates space and its refer- ences through metaphors that have not yet been demoted to platitudes, expanding simultaneously with their perception. Thus, she calls for di- rect observations perceived in the abstract. Through this she presents an alternative to the constructed perception by producing new mean- ings. As the silver and exact turns the continuous search for authenticity back to the perceiver, Hofvander underlines the impossibility of the de- sired, objective truth.

For Hofvander this means positioning her work methodologically some- where between epistemic consideration and phenomenological experi- ence. Epistemologically she shows that perception is temporal, loaded with a past, involving concepts, beliefs, and knowledge about the world. She studies the structures of consciousness, its intentionality and potentials. Hofvander invites the viewer to direct their perception not only to her artwork but also to what proceeded it, what surrounds it, and what can be anticipated from this encounter. She expects perceivers to recon- textualize activity in order to give the encounter, the artwork, its mean- ing and reference.

Whereas Hofvander suggests the abstract in space, she notes that perception is a continuous act, where, in Lefebvrian terms, time contains a spatial code. Since, for Henri Lefebvre, as long as time and space re- main inseparable, the meaning of each is to be found in the other imme- diately. Hofvander agrees to this by presenting in the space, in her art- work, that what came earlier continues to attest to what follows.

Hofvander’s indications to define and redefine the perceived spatial relations between objects refer to a conceptualized space where what is lived and perceived merges into what is conceived, which then, final- ly, emerges into experiences. Containing criticality to the medium itself, her playful take on perception ruthlessly challenges the illusion that pho- tography is a representation or reflection of reality of any kind. Such a re- flection is thus only able to repeat the perception and reveal to the view- er what one perceived.

As Paul Ricoeur suggests, human existence attributes metaphoric statements in establishing the relationship between the world and us with the ability to imagine. Linda Hofvander shows that precisely this, her metaphoric tool, the photograph, has the possibility to reveal.

Aura Seikkula 2015

(From I am silver and exact, Art and theory Publishing 2015)

Aura Seikkula is an independent curator and researcher. Her extensive international practice comprises of process, production, and theory.