Artist Statement

I came up with the idea of my project when watching what is considered to be a horror movie, in this case ‘Paranormal Activity’. Due to being bored I wound up wondering why it’s meant to be scary, there I thought it would be fun to question this in my work. I began this by brainstorming popular horror movie figures, including Chucky, Pennywise and Frankenstein etc, eventually branching out into comics and books I’ve read. To begin with I was unsure which medium I wanted to use to translate my work, so I started with what I know best, drawing and painting. Starting with the most popular, I painted the Joker, Chucky and Jigsaw.

From this I then decided to take a risk and start working in the 3d medium of plaster casting, often used for making moulds, but in this case I used to make large masks of the figures faces. Using the 3 paintings and the 4 masks I created, I presented these as my first piece back in the new term. I got alot of positive feedback and it was suggested that I looked into Yayoi Kusama, Mike Kelley and the essay The Uncanny Valley by Masahiro Mori. The essay from that point on, really took hold of my work as it was so similar to what I was trying to do. I then began to hit a wall in the sense of how to show my aim in this work, therefore it was suggested to me how I could show this way of thinking. For week 4 I created a huge mind map comprised of the original paintings and some new ones, ranging from Werewolves and Zombies to the Tooth Fairy from ‘Darkness Falls’ and Jason Voorhees. It was designed to question the fear of these figures, comparing them to people and events that are deemed to not be scary. Comparisons included Wolves and Werewolves, and the fear of Pennywise stemming from killer John Wayne Gacy.

I decided then to try and flip the idea, going from extracting fear from figures to making ordinary objects seem scary, slightly taking on from the Uncanny Valley. Inspired by Mike Kelley, I done a ‘found objects’ idea, painting blood onto an ‘Operation’ board game, and toy baby dolls being turned into scary figures. It was pointed out to me that this was becoming more of a jokative work which wouldn’t give the desired effect. At this point, on week 7, I hit another wall on where to go, and so I dived into research in different artists I had been given. I also decided then to go back to my most successful idea of masks, playing with materials I had on hand, this included latex and polystyrene faces. I was thinking also of Paul Thek’s piece ‘Warriors Leg’ which shows only a leg, nothing more which is both unsettling and interesting. Creating realistic human faces, again referring the Uncanny Valley, I was able to create the desired effect of fear and revulsion due to the skin like effect latex can have, much like how Kiki Smith’s work Soft Bodies does by looking like shedded skin.

For my final piece of this term I settled on the idea of mirrors, possibly because of Yayoi Kusama, showing the idea of how fears are projected onto an object or figure in order to make them appear scary. I had 2 mirrors facing each other with a pile of the latex faces in between them, creating the infinite mirror illusion when seen from a particular angle and leaving the faces to be available to touch, therefore making the fear and revulsion even more of a prominent feature in this work.

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