MASAKI YADA

 

Uncanny

 

In recent years, my central theme has been the investigation of my inner self. This endeavour, in a way, can be seen as a search for my Freudian Id, a child like self or uncivilized and untamed desires. The act of searching for my Id resembles, in some ways, the tale in Genesis, in which Adam touches the fruit of knowledge after being deceived by a serpent. As a result, he was removed from the Garden of Eden by God and forced to live through agriculture. Despite the obvious message hidden message in this tale, which symbolises the imperfection o human beings stemming from curiosity and human desires, I believe these qualities are what make us human.   

My journey of discovery stems from my aspiration to realize the uniqueness of my individuality. While I touched upon subjects within a discourse of psychology, such as fetish, dream, childhood memory, and eroticism, I realize that all the subjects that I deal with in the study of psychology are in many ways relevant to a word ‘ Uncanny’.

Uncanny has a history as a discourse. A German Psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch was the first writer to recognize the state of the uncanny, which is captured in On the Psychology of the Uncanny. In it, he refers to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story "The Sand-Man", which features a life-like doll, Olympia. Subsequently, Sigmund Freud elaborated the concept of the word in his essay, Das Unheimliche (The Uncanny). The fact that those writers and psychoanalysts have dealt with this subject proves that the word is an area of fascination for us in the current cultural studies. I assume that this is because of the contradictory nature of the word. The Freudian concept shows that if a situation where something is familiar, yet foreign at the same time, this dichotomy results in a feeling of being uneasy or unsettling. As the uncanny is familiar, yet partly foreign, it often creates cognitive dissonance within the experiencing subject. It is precisely due to the paradoxical nature of being attracted to, but repulsed by an object at the same time. Uncanny can be felt in many ways. The uncanny involves feelings of uncertainty, in particular, regarding the reality of who is and what is being experienced. It is a peculiar combination of the familiar and unfamiliar, as the form of something familiar unexpectedly arising in a strange and unfamiliar context, or conversely something strange and unfamiliar unexpectedly arising in a familiar context. It can be felt in response to dolls and other lifelike objects, as it appears in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story "The Sand-Man". The uncanny matters tend to be something gruesome or terrible, moreover, death and corpses, cannibalism, live burial, the return of the dead. But it can also be a matter of something strangely beautiful, bordering on ecstasy or eerily matters, reminding us of something like deja vu. At some level, the feeling of the uncanny may be bound up with the most extreme nostalgia. This can quintessentially be seen in a film, Blue Velvet by David Lynch. A character played by Denis Hopper pulls out an inhaler in front of a prostitute like woman. As he inhales while covering his mouth with the inhaler, he becomes aroused, and starts screaming “mammy, mammy”. However, as she puts a handkerchief into his mouth, the cloth clams him down. Supposedly the smell of reminds him of his childhood and brings him to a normal state.

Another aspect of the uncanny is that the state of being uncanny is never far from something comic. Humour, irony and laughter all have a genuinely ‘funny’ role in thinking on this topic.
The connotation of the word “ uncanny “ remains as the source of my inspiration for new works. The thought process embodies my work as the trace of my visual examination of the theme. What fascinates me about the word is that my pursuit of own sense of aesthetics has been inherited from Plato’s idealized beauty to something else that is latent in “ Uncanny”. For instance, such words as, grotesque, queer, and supernatural are often associated with the uncanny, which is identifiable in my work. Yet my challenge is to create ecstatically beautiful and seductive artworks. Moreover, this appears to be the exemplified aesthetics being exercised in the context of contemporary art, which extends beyond fine art, covering literature and music. This frightening beauty: a twisted sense of aesthetics is unique characteristics favoured by audiences in the modern world and a manifestation of our craving for the unknown. I will strive to both interpret and convey this complex sense of uncanny in my work.

 

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