As a artist, educator and researcher, I would like to share some images of my latest artwork, entitled I Feel Myself Looked at by the Things, a video installation incorporating a dressing table, two-way mirrors, 3D animation, visual effects and 3D printing.
I have a background as a fine art practitioner but now also lecture in design, illustration and animation. In the time since I started working with painting, video and installation, I have become increasingly interested in digital moving imagery and especially three dimensional computer generated imagery (CGI). I use visual effects to create the impression of unknown yet familiar forms within the screen, creating new associations, fantastic implied narratives and extra-dimensional implications in otherwise mundane spaces. CGI can look ‘realistic’ but have no connection to the real beyond an urge towards the ‘paradox of perceptual realism’ (Rodowick, 2007 p101). In this way, the computer generated image is like an uncanny double.
Viewing the uncanny through the lens of affect theory, as an embodied preconscious and prepersonal intensity, the ‘uncanny shudder’ (Gunning, 2008:69), that traverses, but is not limited to, our bodies and that we ‘fix in post’ as horrible, pleasurable or somehow both of these things at once might help to explain uncanny pleasure in art. The practice presented here has isolated a particular form of uncanny experience that is already held within contemporary CGI. It does have, along with its uncanny qualities, a certain kind of absurd humour and aesthetic pleasure. It does create an ‘uncanny shudder’, a physical reaction, involuntary exclamation and gesticulation. The source of this ‘uncanny shudder’ flows through the same stream as laughter – It is virtual ‘…a lived paradox where what are normally opposites coexist, coalesce, and connect.’ (Massumi, 2002:30)
The urge in visual effects towards the ‘paradox of perceptual realism’ (Rodowick, 2007:101) leads to the creation of imagery that is atemporal, in the sense that it shows events that never occurred, to objects that never existed, in locations that have been augmented, being given all the surface cues of reflectance, rootedness and solidity that lead us to a sense of immediacy and ‘realism’. CGI visual effects images are like Freud’s uncanny double (1919), but a double for which, paradoxically (and uncannily), there is no original referent. This practice exploits the conventions of film and installation art in order to recover ‘something of the original strangeness’ (Gunning, 2003:45) of computer generated imagery.