1/27/12

Thoughts on things that creeped me out, and other lofty ideas

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When I was in grade school I loved looking at books about UFOs, ghosts, the supernatural, and really whatever whacked-out mysterious things might exist ("might" being the operative word in my mind at the time). In 7th grade I went through a serious ouija board phase--at the time one of my closest friends claimed to have seen the ghost of a man in a top hat and tails in her parent's bedroom and I must admit her house was fairly creepy (the third floor bathroom was basically in a turret). So of course this meant that it was our favorite place to pose questions to the mass-manufactured Parker Brothers game that we invested so much faith in. (But not really, I mean, we pretended not really, being in that weird place where we had one foot in adolescent skepticism and one finger trying to still hold on to the imaginary realm of childhood.)

I'm not sure if I fully believed in any of it, but it still scared the heck out of me; I had both the mind of  a doubting scientist who wanted evidence (I once asked Santa for a picture of Jesus, meaning a photograph not a painting, Mom and Dad) and the mind of a sometime spiritualist who recognized that the world is full of unsolvable and vastly unknowable questions--and possibly horrifying hairless demons that might live in a tiny closet in your bedroom like on that one episode of Tales from the Darkside.

I continued my seeking ways during college, spending hours in the self-help section of the local St. Louis Barnes & Noble reading everything from cognitive therapy-based books to volumes on runes. I resided--and mostly still do--in this middle ground: my logical brain thinks I'm a skeptic, and my artistic brain thinks I'm a speck floating in a mind-bending soup of who-knows-what. Call me wishy-washy, but I guess that means I'm intellectually agnostic.

My latest series (still unnamed) is an attempt on my part to try to recapture some of that old feeling of fascination and awe that got shelved quite a bit in the day-to-day of making sure the kids were mostly clean, were every once in a while eating something other than beige-colored food, and as of late telling them I don't care who did what to whom, just stop bickering forgodsakes. I had already begun to examine some supernatural ideas with "Strange Happenings" but for whatever reason I just wasn't fully invested in it. Once I shifted my focus slightly to connect it to my past a bit more I began to feel like I'd found my voice again. Throw a dash of physics, astronomy, Jung and all things ancient into the mix and you've basically got an understanding of where my influences lie.

Still, in many ways it's difficult to capture visually how it felt to watch scary shows and movies back then, what it meant to read about chaos theory and Shrodinger's cat (which, trust me, I had/have only a very basic grasp of but still find compelling nonetheless). The best way I can describe it is to say that overall certain images are embedded in my mind, along with a hard-to-describe feeling--one that's unsettling but not entirely unpleasant either. If I look for clips now they strike me as cheesy, but also bring back some of that old feeling, a kind of weird nostalgia.

While this is the impetus for the current series, I'm feeling that some of it has been approached too cerebrally (though that may be central to the images in some ways). It's that logical vs. imaginative brain thing again, that middle ground I always seem to be pulled towards. Still, the photos right now seem too "clean" to me--I've been thinking about how to make them less pristine, more messy in that crazy adolescent poltergeist way. But maybe too there's a chaos I'm trying to control, which might root them in the more orderly nature of how the pictures have been coming together. I don't know, I'm thinking out loud, at which point blog posts can become boring so I'll shut up now. Long story short it's at least coming together more than before. We'll see what happens next.

(Wait--did you know there's a theory that poltergeists aren't ghosts but actually the pent-up energy of teenager's (mostly girls') anxiety and hormones being physically manifested? An interesting tidbit I think.)

2 comments:

Kate Wilhelm said...

I think you might like Beth Lilly's work... http://bethlilly.com/index2.php#/home/

Tytia said...

A friend of mine thought I might like your work, and she was right! Love it and you're a great writer too. Love this......Call me wishy-washy, but I guess that means I'm intellectually agnostic.