Using Freuds Uncanny Concepts

The uncanny is a concept that I have frequented regularly. Every theorist and artist has a different approach to the subject, a different idea of the guidelines surrounding the conception of uncanny models but none of them particularly agree to a set of universal rules that can be applied to all works on the subject. However, Freud wrote a large body of work on the uncanny, and developed a set of studies around the subject using a psychoanalytical approach. The main paper of importance in this collection is the one which I will be using to build my conceptual theories and carry out my research. ‘The Uncanny’ by Sigmund Freud (1919 ) is the source text for my project. In it, Freud sets out to describe the main conceptual fingerprints of uncanny (or unheimlich, in the original German account). In the study he talks about the uncanny as a branch of aesthetics that ultimately lays in the ‘realm of the frightening’, one which, even now, is not fully explored by psychoanalysts. Freud (1919) observes that the accounts of aesthetics;

‘…prefer to concern themselves with our feelings for the beautiful, the grandiose and the attractive- that is to say, with feelings of a positive kind, their determinants and the objects that arouse them- rather than with their opposites, feelings of repulsion and distress.’

Freud usually does not concern himself with the analysis of aesthetics, but here recognises the need of the psychoanalyst to procure an interest in aesthetics because of their relation to feelings. The relationship between aesthetics and emotion is one that cannot be denied, and should be exploited. I feel it is of huge importance in the realm of digital media, in an age where creatives are striving to render complex ideas and concepts in universally accessible and innovative new ways.


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