Samantha Holmes

Uncovering The Uncanny

A blonde woman runs staggering down a long, dark and cold corridor, frantically glancing behind her as an foreboding figure hunts his prey, finally capturing her in a horrifying climactic ending. As an audience we know we’re not the blonde woman, we’re not the one in danger, so why are we afraid? This question is what my practise continues to answer and ask repeatedly. By juxtaposing the dark elements of decapitated limbs and horror-like atmosphere, with the light hearted humour of cartoonist fabric organs the work seeks to pose this question by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

My work plays with 2 main concepts in mind, first being the Uncanny Valley theory which is a hypothesis which seeks to determine why humans are afraid of inhuman things bearing human-like features, the second being the psychological reasoning found behind our fear of horror films. The second concept is broken down further into 3 factors, first being the build up of tension and suspense, the second is the unrealism of the horror elements including the over dramatisation of deaths and gore, and the final factor, which is also the most important to my work, is the relevance to the audience the genre of horror holds. Horror connects viewers to their hidden fears, such as loneliness, death, personal trauma and so on, and projects those fears to confront the viewer. Once confronted these fears are what leaves the viewer scared all the while mistaking the film for being the cause of the fear. My work does not aim to debunk those fears, but to debunk the situations which cause the fear in movies. By debunking the films horror elements and removing the fear the viewer is confronted with their true fear, which in turn can then be eased eventually allowing the viewer to have a better outlook on life free from the unconscious burden they carried before.

In Uncovering The Uncanny I am creating more than the visual debunk of the horror genre, I am also incorporating the surroundings of the artwork itself to create the same suspense and atmosphere of a horror scene. My work is to feature the same over dramatisation of the horror elements, including unrealistically long intestines and a skeleton seemingly floating in front of the viewer, placed in a cold surrounding imitating the rooms often seen in the horror genre where the murderers often tortured their victims. This piece is a deeper development of previous works I’ve made in which I made the viewer aware of their fear by forcing them to confront it to continue to their destination, in short, it featured floating white heads placed on either side of a well used corridor, making the otherwise unremarkable and safe environment into something uncanny and uncomfortable.