Friday 7 February 2014

Major Project - Initial Ideas

Over the last few months I have been focused on intensive research and academic writing for an extended dissertation. With this completed, I am looking forward to returning to a more creative challenge for my final project. At this stage I have a couple of ideas that I'd like to share before settling on a course of action.

The first idea is based on the concept of "lucid dreaming". This is when an individual realizes they are in a dream and with this awareness comes the ability to control it. I have experienced this phenomenon from time to time which could explain why I like films and literature that explore the idea. For example Christopher Nolan's "Inception" (2010), Michel Gondry's  "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004) , "The Science of Sleep" (2006) and to a certain degree Phillip K. Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"(1966). In most of these examples, fictional technology assists the process. After some initial research I have found that there are techniques to encourage lucid dreaming, such as performing reality checks during the day and keeping a dream journal at night. I started to wonder if a short animation could be produced that incorporates all of this information in an interesting way. In terms of style and presentation, my thought process took me to Bill Plympton's animated shorts "How to Kiss" (1989) and "25 Ways to Quit Smoking" (1989).  I believe that Plympton's distinctive, comedic style could be combined with the surreal nature of lucid dreams to make a short 3D animation.  It could be presented as a companies promotional video, demonstrating their "products", services and guides to lucid dreaming.

(Snippets of Bill Plympton's "25 Ways to Quit Smoking" and "How to Kiss")

The second idea grew from my research for my dissertation which is based on "The Uncanny". In psychological terms, the uncanny is a negative emotional reaction to an object, person or environment closely related, but not exclusive to fear. The German psychiatrist Ersnt Jentsch identified the term in his essay "On the Psychology of the Uncanny" (1909) and defined it as a product of intellectual uncertainty. This concept was later elaborated on and developed by Sigmund Freud in his essay "The Uncanny" (1919). Freud related the uncanny to repressed infantile fears, surmising that it is a peculiar mixture of something familiar in a unfamiliar context and vice versa. Although Freud was dismissive of Jentsch's "intellectual uncertainty" argument, it nevertheless recurs in his own essay. He also concurs with Jentsch that robots and wax figures provoke an uncanny response. Further research established that the uncanny is often associated with the sight of corpses, the return of the dead, the paranormal, telepathy, cannibalism, being buried alive, doppelgänger's, the nature of the world, the nature of oneself.  

With this list of uncanny themes, I wondered if an animation could be created as an aesthetic investigation. Having discussed the proposal with my tutor Phil, an idea emerged of creating a virtual gallery, with each room devoted to different aspects of the uncanny. In essence the animation could be virtual tour of what is eerie and disturbing. For example, one room could depict the uncanniness associated with robots, wax figures and puppets; the next room could represent the notion of the double with mirrors as a theme. There is a substantial list to pick and choose from which will help in terms of time management. I can develop a range of rooms in pre-production and ascertain what is feasible within the time frame. I also like the idea of writing a poem or sonnet based on Jentsch and Freud's work which will narrate to the audience throughout the tour. With this in mind I have investigated other exhibitions with an uncanny theme.

Robert Gober - Untitled (Leg) (1989-1990)

Ron Mueck - Auo-portrait

Ronchini Installation

Hans Bellmar - Adjustable Doll (1935)

Herbert List - Surgery for Squint (1944 - 46)

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