The work presented here is inspired by gothic themes, horror, psychoanalysis and dreams.
This photographic series depicts human figures in a domestic setting – in bedrooms, a living room and hallway. The setting looks plain and unhomely. I also think that within the photographs the setting looks like a motel which makes it appear more impersonal. I wanted to blur the socio-cultural reality of the space that is being depicted.
The work is inspired by Aware Sleep Paralses and Sigmund Freud’s The Uncanny. Aware Sleep Paralysis or waking dreams occur when R.E.M overlaps with waking/falling asleep. R.E.M is the time during which dreams occur. Thus the body is paralysed in order to prevent one from acting out their dreams and causing harm to themselves. During a state of ASP the body is paralysed while the mind is conscious; mobility is confined to the eyes. The subject feels that they are awake but are lying paralysed in their bed and can see their surroundings with clarity. However, images and figures from dreams may be carried over into the waking period in the form of visual and auditory hallucinations. If one could manage to move some part of the body a message would be sent to the brain informing it that they are awake and thus the paralysis would be broken; there is a constant struggle to wake oneself. Among the sensations is difficulty breathing or a feeling of pressure on the chest. I have played with the idea of gothic spaces and experience and have created liminal spaces. I have based these images on the liminal experience of waking dreams. Professor of English at the University of Sussex, Nicholas Royle said “The uncanny is ghostly. It is concerned with the strange, weird and mysterious, with a flickering sense of something supernatural. The uncanny involves feelings of uncertainty regarding the reality of who one is and what is being experienced”. I feel this quote links waking dreams, the uncanny and horror.
In Freud’s essay he discusses how the automaton can cause some uncanny effects. Despite being human the figures in the photographs hold resonance with the automaton. Despite their being at home their stilted and awkward body language suggests a discomfort with their environment. There is no interaction amongst the models and their facial expressions are vacant. This apparent vacancy gives a sense that the figures are not quite living or are alien and emotionless. The figures do not appear threatening either, yet this emptiness suggests a dark undertone. Between the body language and facial expressions there is a sense of anxiety. The colour in the photographs is analogous, again to create an ethereal quality. I also utilised Freud’s suggestion that the doppelganger creates some uncanny effects and how reflection and shadow are a symbol of this. The figures are positioned in the photographs to mirror each other. There are also a number of mirrors and shadows in the work.