ii. For brief moments flying butterflies were reflected; they seemed to fly through a sky of gravel. Shadows cast by the mirrors contrasted with those seconds of colour. A scale in terms of “time” rather than “space” took place, the mirror itself is not subject to duration, because it is an ongoing abstraction that is always available and timeless. The reflections, on the other hand, are fleeting instances that evade measure. Space is the remains, or corpse, of time, it has dimensions. “Objects” are “sham space,” the excrement of thought and language. Once you start seeing objects in a positive or negative way you are on the road to derangement. Objects are phantoms of the mind, as false as angels.¹
John Dee would likely disagree with Smithson on the falsity of angels. In Derek Jarman’s Jubilee,² Dee — with the aid of Ariel and a mirror that repeatedly throws the sun into the camera lens (see also The Angelic Conversation) — succeeds in transporting his virgin queen four centuries into the future. Are mirror-travel and time-travel one and the same?
¹ Robert Smithson, Incidents of mirror-travel in the Yucatan, 1969.
² Jarman being formerly of this parish, more-or-less.