Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jill Greenberg captures the uncanny. Her photographs are intriguing and captivating overall. The perfectly executed photographs showcasing the perfection of its target in a not so perfect behavior is quite remarkable. The photo shopped/airbrushed quality to the figures allow viewers to engage in their perfectly displayed skin and/or fur, all in while knowing that no one has skin like those figures anywhere in the world. It's the enjoyment of believing that one could actually obtain that perfection. My views on the Uncanny lie in the realm of mental consciousness opposed to acts. The way Greenberg executes these photographs of perfectly smiling monkeys and peeing apes just mocks the Uncanny that one may have experienced through picture books or cartoons, instead with a more profound stamp on it. The uncanny humanness of the animals are displayed in a way that cannot be ignore but, at the same time how many cartoons involve human like animated characters. Also the angelic quality relates to dream like realms which also screams uncanny. Crying children aren't uncanny at all neither are little blonde girls doing gymnastics. The execution, the composition reads Uncanny.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do not read this if you do not want to get creeped-out, spooked, and uneasy

Just in time for Halloween:

Thought Catalog presents us with:
50 Quotes from Children That Will Send Shivers Down Your Spine
I warned you.

Vampyr - Obscurity, Intensification, Narrative Instability

Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr is surely one of the strangest of the classic horror films.
We briefly discussed how this strangeness represents what Paul Schrader has called "the transcendental style in cinema"; that is, a tendency to see through representations (that often do not advance the central plot) to a Mystery of Being that denies the ultimate reality of material things.
The strangeness also represents lyricism or even what some people call poetic style--again, a concentration upon elements of composition, camera effects, characterization, and even plot that rejects the principle that film should create a coherent, focused presentation that tells a story, and instead promotes mood, atmosphere, tone. 
Given this emphasis on atmosphere, many film critics would say that Vampyr offers an example of cinematic impressionism -- in contrast to the expressionism we associate without many other classics of horror and the uncanny: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or the 1931 James Whale Frankenstein. (American horror classics were influenced by the many German silent films on uncanny themes, but also reflect the exportation of German film culture to Hollywood with an influx of refugees from Nazism in the early 1930s).

Another way to characterize Uncanny Style in Vampyr:

Obscurity - Consider what appears deliberately indistinct and unclear -- visually and aurally, but also in the conceptual elements of cinema (plot developments, setting, characters' roles in the story . . . ). What is dark, washed-out, missing?

Intensification - Consider what is exaggerated, overdone.

Narrative Instability - Consider how the basic story information is conveyed. Do we know whose point of view we are perceiving, and when the point of view shifts? Do we know what is "real" in the story and what is "fantasy" or "hallucination"?

--These issues are discussed to some extent in the reading on Vampyr by S. S. Prawer.

If you do choose to offer a comment on Vampyr in advance of discussion on Wednesday, Oct 30 -- it's not required -- you might follow one or more of these topics.
Post your response here as a comment, or if you wish, as a separate blog post.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Preliminary Topic Proposal - PLEASE POST BY CLASS TIME WEDNESDAY, OCT 23

Please review the Final Project Assignment, which can be found on Blackboard. Use this blog to post your preliminary topic proposal.
It should be a brief statement only, giving:
--The work, artist, or phenomenon you intend to investigate further.
--Your considered but still preliminary ideas for how this topic represents a significant and suggestive instance of the uncanny in the arts. For example: Your first ideas on how and why this work inspires the uncanny effect in the receiver; or how the work exemplifies an extant theory of the uncanny; or how the work represents the uncanny in a surprising medium or context; or how an artist's work demonstrates a consistent and illuminating attraction to some subject in the Uncanny.
    A great approach would be to demonstrate that some application of a theory of the Uncanny allows us to see the work from a new and helpful perspective.

  If you have more than one idea, share more than one. If you haven't developed a topic yet:

  Aside from the artists and exhibitions that appear in the links in the sidebar of this blog, you might consider some of the literary works and films that are listed on the course bibliography. I'd be particularly interested in speaking with anyone interested in presenting on:

Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)
God Told Me To (Larry Cohen, 1977)
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)
The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002)
Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998) 
The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection  (Image, 2006)
Twin Peaks: The Definitive Complete Series (Paramount, 2007) 
Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

At our next two sessions, we will try to refine project topics, and we'll meet in small groups the week of November 4 to finalize proposals.

You can post your brief proposal as a comment to this post. If you'd like to share images or video, please post it as a separate blog post including the image.

Tarkovsky films now free online

This should be of interest to anyone who wants to know more about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, whom Adriana discussed last week:

Tarkovsky films now free online

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

From Rick Coulby - Asger Carlsen

This image is from Asger Carlsen's series "Wrong". Carlsen plays with our understanding of the human form. He aims to disrupts our understanding of our own reality by creating impossible forms constructed from multiple images. In their final form they exist as psuedo sculptures but sit within the medium of photography. The forms remind me alot of the figures depicted in paintings by Francis Bacon. The fact that his aim to toy with our own conceptions of reality the work is undeniably uncanny.

From Adriana Serrato - From Stalker, by Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979

Stalker is a film by Andrei Tarkovsky, a Russian film director, in 1979 which is an adaptation of the novel Picnic by the Roadside by Boris Stragatsky and Arkady Strugatsky. Stalker is a film about three men who travel in a forbidden area known as the Zone. The film is considered a science fiction as it portrays the world were the logic of our reality does not apply, as in the Zone everything from objects to landscape seem to rearrange themselves as they please, there is no fluid comprehension or establishment of the environment. The three men are in the pursuit of a room that has the power to make wishes true. Andrei Tarkovsky successfully creates a very dark and almost ominous film, there is a feeling of solitude as the shots are set up in a manner where there is a lack of human activity. The following images are instances of the uncanny in the film. Every environment is minimally lit and the architecture seems old and abandoned. This idea of abandonment brings up the notion of the haunting, as the environment seems to be haunted by a past life or a greater power. The environment in which the scenes are shot seem to have had a utility and possibly activity in a previous life. In the first few instances of the film we enter a room by the window, a very slow pan into the room takes place. These slow camera moves add to that unease feeling the viewer may experience from the shots. The director also uses fog as well as industrial scenery as a tool to create a sense of loneliness and with the immense and infinite environment a sense of smallness.The shots of the film mimic a post-war scenery as if the environment had experience disastrous disfiguration. The film questions the reality, physicality and function of our life as well as the notion of religion and hope.