Uncanny and Black was created in 2007 for the purpose of conveying the theme of being overwhelmed by the weight of the uncanny. The word “uncanny” has many definitions, but I followed the idea, from Sigmund Freud’s essay, The “Uncanny,” that it is the “uncertainty whether an object is living or inanimate,” as used in describing E.T.A. Hoffman’s, The Sandman, from the volume Nachtstücken. The uncertainty that arises by giving life to the lifeless black fabric is meant to produce feelings of the uncanny.
The original installation filled an empty room at the ATLAS building on the University of Colorado campus. The room was draped completely in the black fabric that was used to produce the short film. It was designed to produce the feeling of claustrophobia and complete spatial unawareness. Just as objects are swarmed by the creeping, black fabric in the film, the viewer was entirely enveloped when he or she entered the installation. The viewer’s sense of hearing was flooded by a bass-heavy ambient soundtrack, which is reminiscent of the dull roar of a dream or the din of silence. The entire room directs the viewer’s attention toward the film itself—a montage of familiar images slowly shrouded by the uncanny black mass.
For an optimal viewing experience, watch the video in a dark room with a very powerful sub woofer.
Shortly after creating my amateur interpretation of The Uncanny, I found another good video on YouTube of a modern interpretation of The Sandman story.