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Article

Masks, Mirrors, and Mediated Perception: Reflective Viewing in the House of the Gilded Cupids

Department of Classics and World Religions, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA
Received: 16 March 2019 / Revised: 14 May 2019 / Accepted: 17 May 2019 / Published: 3 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ancient Mediterranean Painting (vol. 2))
Masks, as a locus of mimetic potential, serve both to typify and to disguise, distilling character traits and translating them visually, even as they hide the visage of those who might wear them, suggesting a performative persona through the partial negation of the form of the actor. As a multi-dimensional depiction, they enable the generation of distance between viewer and viewed, translating an animate individual into an inanimate object and thus, through the intervention of a worked surface, inviting interpretation. To explore the ways that these ideas interact within a domestic space, the article focuses on the House of the Gilded Cupids, interrogating the interplay between materiality and depiction by pairing masks with mirrors, considering the ways in which both media use surface to highlight liminality, eliding viewer and viewed in a complex commentary on the mutability of visual perception. Highlighting the juxtaposition of inset obsidian panels with depictions of reflective surfaces in the mythological wall paintings within the domestic space, the article argues that the conflation of mirror, mask, and reflection within the space enables the viewer to utilize depicted conceptual doubles to both reinforce and undermine the boundaries of the viewer’s embodied reality in order to confront the extent to which an individual is predicated on perception, both internal and external. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pompeii; House of the Gilded Cupids; wall painting; specularity; mimesis; social performance; materiality; embodiment; othering; masks; mirroring Pompeii; House of the Gilded Cupids; wall painting; specularity; mimesis; social performance; materiality; embodiment; othering; masks; mirroring
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MDPI and ACS Style

McFerrin, N. Masks, Mirrors, and Mediated Perception: Reflective Viewing in the House of the Gilded Cupids. Arts 2019, 8, 83. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030083

AMA Style

McFerrin N. Masks, Mirrors, and Mediated Perception: Reflective Viewing in the House of the Gilded Cupids. Arts. 2019; 8(3):83. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030083

Chicago/Turabian Style

McFerrin, Neville. 2019. "Masks, Mirrors, and Mediated Perception: Reflective Viewing in the House of the Gilded Cupids" Arts 8, no. 3: 83. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030083

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