Post Internet and the Uncanny

Without conscious thought the idea of the uncanny has began creeping into my work. A face rendered through Facebook imagery has a vague resemblance to the image of the person but enough difference to make something scary. What point is this making? Does this eerie familiarity have a connection to our digital reflections? One could not argue that facebook is a particularly uncomfortable technology to one of a social disposition. If I am honest with myself I used the uncanny in order to cause a feeling of dissonance. To try to build upon the idea that virtual copies of our selves exist. This is almost mythical metaphorical interpretation on digital reality.
 
In Melissa Gronlund essay on eflux, Return of the Gothic: Digital Anxiety in the Domestic Sphereshe makes a connection between the gothic novels and post Internet artists looking at the ‘otherness’ of new technology. She goes onto claim that ‘A similar substrate of anxiety and domestic disruption can be found in recent moving image work. Their reappearance or re-conjuring in these settings suggests a return of the gothic as a way to wrestle with daunting, ongoing questions prompted by current technological shifts: How has the internet affected our sense of self? Our interactions with others? The structures of family and kindship?’ She refers on how post Internet art often uses the ‘gothic tropes of the uncanny’. Perhaps it is not unusual for my work to have an uncanny element to it, after all much of online technology is similar to offline life minus a couple of significant differences. Ed Atkins, Wendy Vainity and Mark Leckey all could be called post Internet artists and all use the uncanny to cause an unsettling effect in their work. But I think the major difference between gothic literature and post Internet art that Gronlund fails to mention is that there was a genuine public fear of technology in the 1800s there is not one now despite diminishing privacy and the massive amount of information that is now being stored. The public reaction NSA scandal was one closer to apathy then to fear. I believe the trend towards the uncanny has more to do with the personification of the inanimate used to highlight and bring to the public attention the questions about online identity or perhaps simply as an attempt to bring more mythos into the world through the magical nature of the virtual.
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One thought on “Post Internet and the Uncanny

  1. “…an uncanny effect often arises when the boundary between fantasy and reality is blurred, when we are face with the reality of something that we have until now considered imaginary, when a symbol takes on the full function and significance of what it symbolizes…”
    The Uncanny by Freud

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