The Uncanny Valley

$ 750.00


(2015) The uncanny valley is a hypothesis in the field of aesthetics which holds that when features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some observers. The "valley" refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of beings as subjects move toward a healthy, natural likeness described in a function of a subject's aesthetic acceptability.

In other words, between the mountains of safety and danger is a valley of creepiness where the limits of our knowledge, trust, and security are not clear. On one extreme we know how to react to a recognizably non-threatening aesthetic, and on the other we can identify clear and present danger and mentally prepare. However, the "valley" is where people feel the terror of ambiguity, not being able to clearly identify if they should be afraid of something or not. Being afraid of the right things kept our ancestors alive, so theoretically this essential instinct is challenged within the valley.

While not as creepy as an actual animatronic subject, this Twilight Zone-esque concept intrigued me so I wanted to see if I could tackle the idea in 2-D using myself as the subject of revulsion. The first frame is non-threatening, the last frame is threatening, but the middle frame holds the thematic crux, adorned with scissors symbolizing that which could be either a tool or a weapon.

To give the impression of change, I framed each sequence in a film reel with the fortune of having a built-in dip directly above the frame that represents the "valley".