Eye-gazing, reflection, and object permanence

The six-month-old baby Juli had been having fun studying reflections in different contexts in the past months. But, this week was the theme in which she explored eye contact in depth through reflections.

Juli watched me through a reflection on the TV screen in the family room. As I walked out of the family room into the kitchen, my reflection disappeared and Juli turned her gaze toward me.

This suggested something about her awareness of the reflection and the object permanence.

Further with an experiment, I kneeled down behind Juli in front of the television set. We looked at each other through the reflection. Every time I ducked down below the TV set, my reflection disappeared. Juli turned around and looked at me.

In the bathroom, she looked at me in the side mirror while I looked at her in the main mirror. That is, we had no eye contact.

Then I shifted my gaze and looked at her in the side mirror and she looked at me in the main mirror. I followed (or "chased") her gaze, alternating between the two mirrors a few times more.

Juli smiled every time I caught her eye contact in the mirror reflection. We shared big smiles and laughs. It was like a "cat and mouse" chase game.

Another time in the hallway, as I alternated my gaze at Juli in person and "her" in the mirror. Juli followed my gaze and maintained eye contact between the mirror and me.

In this activity, I maintained my body still, completely unmoved, while my gaze shifted. This suggested that Juli was able to see small movement well with sensitivity.

Another time, Juli sat in front of the fireplace at my aunt's place. She studied the fireplace screen while aunt, cousin and I chatted. It was a long moment of stillness.

To check what Juli was up to, I turned around and looked at the fireplace screen. Then following Juli's gaze, I looked downward and met her eye contact in the reflective bars below the fireplace. Our eyes locked and Juli grinned ear to ear. We laughed.

ASL expressions

The ASL words and phrases that I used with Juli that week (m7w1) are as follows: mirror, mother go-out-to work, drink, water, full?.. and some more.

Learning the idea of cause and effect

For the next two weeks (m7w3), Juli continued to watch me through various reflections -- on the fridge surface, television screen, fireplace glass, and so on.

Sometimes she watched me waiting patiently till I noticed her. Then she smiled and turned her head towards me.

Whenever she saw me in the reflection, I greeted her in ASL or simply in gestures like blowing a smack or waving hand.

Videoclip: Juli inspected the nature of reflection, interactivity, and space-time that was different from real-life interaction.

Live interactivity with another person via videophone was a different idea of the cause and effect that Juli was studying or inspecting that was different from 4-dimensional interactivity.

Videoclip: Juli was engaged by the signing shadow when I signed.

baby talk - visual culture

As I was driving, Juli turned her head around to watch me for a while. It appeared that she recognized the connection of our eye contact in the rear mirrors with her parent actually behind her.

Recognizing the difference between reflection and video

Juli's exploring reflections hadn't stopped. During the last week of the month, I was watching a documentary movie on my laptop. Juli was watching with me. But, I then realized she was watching something else.

The video was in full screen but there was black columns at both sides. Juli was looking at me in the reflection on the black surface. She watched a juxtaposition of the video and the real-life reflection.

baby talk - visual culture