The Uncanny Valley

Posted in movies, projects, thesis by johnsnavely on April 22, 2008

In the comments to the last post, virtualnexus pointed out an artwork that I hadn’t seen before, but (from images I saw…) I think I would really like. The piece reminds me of few things. First, Gerhard Richter’s Mirror Painting (Blood Red), a monochromatic painting in red on the back of a large, figure-sized piece of glass. I saw it at SFMoMA many years ago and, for something so minimal, it was creepy as hell….

Speaking of blood, I just watched Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive. It’s not as good as Ichi the Killer, but it’s got the best ending in a movie since Tarantino’s Death Proof. The movie is pretty extreme so if you gross out easily, you might want to pass on this one. (I also checked out Day Watch, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Anyway, the other image that popped into my head when I looked at Richard Wilson’s piece was the opening scene of Ghost in the Shell 2. These opening credits are unbelievable! Traditional Japanese a capella frames these fetish-ized robotic Bellmer dolls. The result is a jaw dropping tour de force that I have difficulty intellectualizing because the emotional output is so raw. (Wait for the use of reflection/water in the video)

This doesn’t do it justice (you need the high res version… watch it full screen on YouTube), but you get the idea:

Anyway, the whole point of Miike and Richter and GitS2 is the mixture of sublime and grotesque that makes me think that they aren’t diametric opposites but instead separate points on a continuum that loops back on itself. (I wonder what would happen if tried to make something as gross as I could.)

Trend note, I’ve seen this resurgent interest in John Waters (and Water’s pop/gross/white trash obsession). You don’t know whether to cry, laugh, or barf. I wanted to show you this site as an example, but the photos have been taken down…


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