In response to my tutors suggestion, I looked at the work of this artist and in particular this series as I recalled seeing one of the images “Helen backstage, Merlin Theatre (the glance) 1996” in Charlotte Cotton’s book recently. While looking at the series, which depicts young people, mostly children, with a doppelganger or even multiple selves in one frame, I also read Gilda Williams essay ‘Identity Twins – the work of Wendy McMurdo’ in which goes she gives one explanation of what this work is about.
The Title above was taken from McMurdo’s website. the link to Gilda Williams essay can also be found there: http://www.wendymcmurdo.com/
Gilda Williams’ essay is of course her own interpretation of the series (some images of which do not appear on the website) Broadly speaking I can understand her interpretation and it has brought me another perspective on the work. I can also see my tutor’s point about how digital manipulation does not have to be as obvious and literal as the example I chose for assignment 4. http://rjdown-dpp-assignments.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/assignment-4-reflection-on-tutor.html
In summary, the essay explains that the doppelganger is a mythical monster from German folklore who stalks the innocent from the shadows, eventually replacing them, un-noticed by their family or friends.
Williams then goes on to explain the uncanny (uncomfortably strange – arousing suspicion) in relation to the Doppelganger, in terms of Freud’s renowned essay in which determines the uncanny as:
- being confronted by a being which we cannot be sure is alive or inanimate, mechanical or living
- fear of losing our sight or being unable to believe our eyes
- fear of having to confront our own double (and thus ourselves)
She also cites two examples in early film and literature “The Student of Prague” and Calvino’s “if on a winter’s night a traveller..” in which the protagonists eventually destroy their twin or multiple counterparts and thus themselves. McMurdo’s work is not this dark however. Perhaps it is for good reason that she chooses children with their associated innocence, for her work. In the image in question “Helen backstage, Merlin Theatre (the glance) 1996” the girl seems hesitant but not afraid. Williams suggests that this image represents an initial self awareness and the subsequent image of the same child “Helen Sheffield 1996” she appears to be at ease with her twin although the game they are playing seems to represent a struggle for dominance.