Saturday, 5 December 2009

Unit 3- Research into Tableauz Vivants and the Uncanny

After the two lecture I thought I might go back over what we explored just to make sure I'm on the right track.

Tableaux Vivant:
By my understanding means, a living image. Divitonary definition: 'A scene presented on stage by costumed actors who remain silent and motionless as if in a picture.' Tableaux vivant is quite theatrical.

(Edgar Degas)


Dictionary definition-

1. the process of setting a stage, with regard to placement of actors, scenery, properties, etc.
2. the stage setting or scenery of a play.
3. surroundings; environment.

My understanding of the term, mise-en-scène, is that it's staging an arrangement using costumes, lighting and human movement. Also by using certain camera work and editing you can crop that scene into what you want it to be. Just like in Edgar Degas' paintings (above), we are only shown glimpses of what's going on, not an overall view.

(Edward Hopper)

The work of Edward Hopper shows glimpses into people's lives only leaving slight clues within his paintings to guide you along, however you can never really know what's going on. His pieces of show tend to tell a story to some degree but usually let you make that story up for yourself. In the image above we can see a women sitting on her bed, on one hand she could have just woken up to a nice morning and is looking out the window to a nice view. On the other hand she could have just had an argument with a partner and has been left there sitting alone, possibly fighting back tears. Either way you look at it we'll never know. We also will never know what she is looking at outside the window either, we can see a glimpse of a building but it's not what she's looking at.


Dictionary definition-
1. doubtfulness or uncertainty of meaning or intention: to speak with ambiguity; an ambiguity of manner.
2. an unclear, indefinite, or equivocal word, expression, meaning, etc.: a contract free of ambiguities; the ambiguities of modern poetry.

The term to me means, images that cannot be defined or are vague or have an unclear meaning. I think if something have a touch of ambiguity to it then it is something that you just can't put your finger on but you know something is not right.

The Uncanny:

The uncanny Dictionary definition-
1. having or seeming to have a supernatural or inexplicable basis; beyond the ordinary or normal; extraordinary: uncanny accuracy; an uncanny knack of foreseeing trouble.
2. mysterious; arousing superstitious fear or dread; uncomfortably strange: Uncanny sounds filled the house.

I feel that the uncanny is easy to describe if you say what it isn't rather than what it is. It's hard to explain exactly what the uncanny is but I think it's like a feeling. It's different from what you would feel in a horror film because you know the feeling of fear, however I think it is something quite close because if you are unfamiliar with something that makes you fearful of it.

Here is an image of the "uncanny valley". It is a graph that helps us to understand what is more uncanny than something else. Things like stuffed animals aren't uncanny because they bare no resemeblance to humans while on the other hand a prosthetic hand or a corpse, while having no life of it's own, looks extremely human.

Important quote from the lecture: "The uncanny is.... a species of the familiar"

(Bernard Faucon)

Bernard Faucon uses ventriloquist dummys to play with the whole meaning of uncanny. These dolls unsettle us in a way because although they are harmless inanimate objects they can be brought to "life" with the aid of a human. Faucon places them in his scenes in such a way that they seem like ordinary humans from a distance but they're not alive, however they look as though they are going about their everday lives just like us.


Unheimlich basically means, unhomely. Objects such as, waxworks, dolls, and mirrors can be seen as eerie. The unheimlich can give you this doubt in the back of your mind whether an inanimate object is alive. The unheimlich is something that is lifeless but has an excessive likeness to the living. I feel that in the film, invasion of the body snatchers, what the people were feeling towards their loved ones was something similar to the unheimlich, while the "aliens" looked exactly like their loved one and bared a likeless to them. it wasn't them. These unheimlich things can unhinged your mind and play tricks.


Dicitonary definition: 'a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person.'

'The term has, in the vernacular, come to refer to any double or look-alike of a person, most commonly in reference to a so-called evil twin, or to bilocation. Alternatively, the word is used to describe a phenomenon where you catch your own image out of the corner of your eye. In some traditions, seeing one's own doppelganger is an omen of death. A doppelganger seen by friends or relatives of a person may sometimes bring bad luck, or indicate an approaching illness or health problem.'

Waxworks, dolls, and even twins can come under this phrase. I believe it is something that bares the same likeness to you while it is not you, somehow like your reflection in the mirror.

The image above is of, David walliams and Matt Lucas standing next to their waxwork counter parts at Madame Tussauds. Although the waxworks show how far we have come in creating a likeless to humans it is also unsettling to see.
This is an image from the film, 'The Shining'. Within the film these twins have been used to be quite creepy and unnerve you. I have not watched the film myself but this scene is quite famous that without seeing the film I know what's it's about to some degree.

The two images above are just some example of a dopplegänger. The baby dolls is one of many realistic looking baby dolls you can now buy, you can even get special perfumes so that they smell like a real baby. I myself find it quite unnerving looking at the baby dolls because they just remind me of a dead baby corspe. They are a bit too realistic looking for my liking and I didnt spend long on the ( website looking for an image because I didn't really want to look at them. The China doll is another thing that I have found give people "the creeps". I don't know whether it's their eyes that stare or their smoothe porcelain faces but I have personally known a few people who are scared of them.

I decided to find some images of mirrors and shadows because I feel that they could be used within my maya scene to give it that uncanny feel. Shadows bare an exact silhouette of the human being stand in front of a light, they also can play tricks on your mind, for instance when you were a kid some shadows would scare you because you didn't know what they belonged to and therefore frightened you. Mirrors can also be quiet uncanny because they have your reflection within them, so although you are look at yourself you have to remember that it's not you in the mirror it's a reflection.

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