In Lacan’s fourth seminar entitled “Object Relation”, he established that the mirror stage is far from being a mere phenomenon occurring in a child’s development. It illustrates the conflictual nature of relational duality. The dual relationship does not just refer to the relationship between the ego and the body, which is still characterised by an illusion of similarity and reciprocity, but also in the relationship between imagination and reality. The visual identity reflected by the mirror produces an imaginary “integrity” around the experience of a fragmented reality...
For Lacan, during our development in childhood, we pass through the mirror stage at between 6 and 18 months. It when we become aware of ourselves, when the ego is created.
This piece plays on the fine line between imaginary “identity” and “real” image.
Does growing up with an illusory reflection of ourselves distort the identity with which we believe we appear? Does it affect our social relationships? Does it produce conflicts? Does it confuse us if we confront it? We are so sure that our image is “made”, while others – for historical, physical or neurological reasons – have been able to create their identity through other codes.
Mirrors have only existed for 8,000 years. Without mirrors, without images of themselves, humans are defined through comparison, language and affective exchange.
The visually impaired, by adding the sense of touch, behave in the same way.
For neurological reasons, children are incapable of visualising the unity of their own image. They therefore learn their identity like a continually shifting puzzle, endlessly redefining themselves, following the part of themselves that they are capable of seeing at a particular moment.
A search without end, which is in fact universal.
Our search for a permanent identity – motivated by a desire to be loved for what we believe we are, shaped by the desire to stick to the image that we believe others have of us – today becomes confused in our image-driven society.
Our identity is ultimately multiple, an image of ourselves gently “shifted” by its point of reception.
An IDENTITY SHIFT.