She’s lifting one of the eyecaps to reveal a capped mirror, before she quickly lets go and lets it snap back shut.
The image of the one eye open is a nod to her frequent use of the “all-seeing” eye, but also a deeper meaning in the context of “Applause.” Gaga scholar Sarah Cook notes that jesters, while funny, were like modern-day comics in that they reflect back truths about everyday life, of society, and of ourselves, even when they may be hard to hear or to face.
In the mirror we see ourselves and our reaction, and because “Applause” is Gaga’s testament that she lives and depends upon our approval, our appreciation, and our enjoyment, our reaction is the only thing that really matters.
When she lets the eye cap drop back down, she only sees herself; she exists in a self-reflexive state, living in a constant mode of self-examination and a meditation on her own artificiality.
Gaga exists for us; and without us, she folds back into herself where she becomes no more.