Landscapes of the Passing Strange: Reflections from Shakespeare uses lines from Shakespeare plays and pairs them with photographic images. Michael Witmore, the new director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, chose the lines, and Rosamond Purcell photographed the images.
The collection has an ethereal, other-world quality, which grows primarily from the unique photographic images Purcell has created. She has taken mercury bottles and used them as reflective mirrored surfaces, from both the inside and outside.
Purcell describes herself as a photographer of "glassy things." Thus, Purcell doesn't photograph things but reflections glassy things create. This gives her art a dreamy, ethereal quality fitting of Shakespeare.
"The wavering shapes begin to evoke the fluidity and multiple meanings found in speeches and verses of Shakespeare. Each element moves or dissolves if I shift the vantage point...These come to be the shadows of this stage," writes Purcell (116).
Simply, Purcell seeks to mirror nature in much the way Shakespeare uses mirror images: "Shakespeare uses mirrors to reflect the nature of twins or siblings, to show signs of moral corruption, beauty, self-loathing, and shame" (117).
Here's an example from the collection:
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this
special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature:
for any thing so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose
end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere the
mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own
image, and the very age and body of the time his form and