"Dee and Carroll’s Smoking Mirrors"
Celia Brown / Film / Lecture Performance / 2021
Lecture: written and narrated by Celia Brown
Editing: Mike Schloemer
Drawings and artworks: Celia Brown
Alice quotations and John Tenniel illustrations: Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, 1871
First presented as part of the ‘Through the Looking-Glass Sesquicentenary Conference 2021’ in York, UK. The lecture is based on research for my book: Alice hinter den Mythen, Fink Verlag, 2015
Lewis Carroll’s looking-glass is a special kind of mirror: it dissolves into a kind of mist, allowing a human being to pass through. The mirror bears considerable similarity to an Aztec obsidian Smoking Mirror purportedly enabling communication with ‘other’ worlds. Carroll’s book collection shows that he was interested in ghost stories, astrology and spiritualist conundrums; was he familiar with John Dee’s smoking mirror, of Aztec origin, now in the British Museum? Elizabeth 1’s astrologer and consultant claimed he could make contact with supernatural beings he designated as ‘angels’ using this obsidian ‘shew-stone’ and thus scry into the future. Perhaps all the residents represent materializations of the long-deceased in history and myth, having also emerged through the mirror? Alice’s participation in a game of opposing chess pieces becomes an opportunity to hold up a spiritualist-scientific mirror to key historical debates about the nature of reality.
Bild zum Film: Alice through the Mirror/Alice durch den Spiegel, 2019, 35 x 35 cm, digitaler Druck auf Plexiglas