Reflection - Representation : Re-presentation : Illusion : Reality : Myth : Fiction / by Ally McGinn

It is arguable that all art deals with representation, or possibly more accurately, re-presentation.

When we say representation the first thing many think of is accurate visual representation. An illusion of reality. But all art, in some way, is representational.

Re-presentation, however, implies an action of some kind. Something presented in a different way.

Often both interlink, but the addition of a small line makes a massive contextual difference.


My practice brings this dichotomy into the forefront, especially my current explorations. Using photography of the subject with the subject invokes notions of representation and reality.

Which is more accurate? Which is more beautiful? What are the differences between the two? In what ways are they the same?

We frame an object by placing it into a gallery, a contextual and objective framing that gives instruction on how to view the work. (Note to self : instruction or reaction).

We frame visual information when we take a photograph of it.

Note to self : explore other methods of representation, non-visual. I.e. Data, marks (maybe through ink on shoes, I've arguably explored the marks of action as a form of representation)

(It's funny how often we can be writing or thinking about one thing and come up with an idea for something else. Maybe looking sideways at things is the solution. In the periphery)

Representation also links to context and meaning. When we are confronted with a representation of something we view it differently to the original, and yet the original is undoubtedly invoked.

Is that difference where we find art? The request to view things differently?

I have been exploring a direct use of representation in my practice, primarily through photography but extending to using the tools and materials in some way, a form of representation, while showing the object, often used, in the same work. Used materials represent their use.

In this way I believe representation can be linked to semiotics.

Representation is illusional. It is not the ‘real thing’. It shows us an aspect of the real thing but it can never be it. (Although a point to note here is that any representation is of course real. It exists in it's own right, another part of the difference between the two.) Art makes the representational real, giving it value beyond the illusion.

An illusion often makes you look twice, it's something that requires active perception to overlook the given truth.

In my practice illusion is a tool used to engage the viewer and pose a question.



The word ‘reality’ is a tricky one. It has numerous definitions, but the reason I initially noted it was a reference to the exploration of the complete object, and it's contextual information. Exploring a more complete reality of these objects and combinations. Beyond their use or apparent function.

(Note to self - all of these objects are functional. Is that because function is tied to potentiality? Or is there a deeper reason?)




Tied to reality, in it's opposition and similarities, fiction implies at least some element of the unreal. Something untrue.

Art, in many ways, is a combination of fiction and truth. I wouldn't claim to know how that relationship works but I believe it is true.

Fiction requires belief, in a similar way to art. Both require a degree of immersion by the audience.

Fiction becomes myth. It could be said that, myth (here used as Roland Barthes uses the term) is fiction embedded into society.

Our society is filled with myths and fictions, they form the heart of who we are and the reasons that we do things. Personal fictions. Societal fictions. Cultural fictions. The list is potentially endless.

Fiction and myth permeate our lives.

This is something I've only begun to research, but something I'm keen to continue.



I've kept this brief because I can see interest and research potential here. My work is beginning to more intentionally reference representation so I believe one of these words is a focus.