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The starting point of this installation was the curiosity towards the (old) concept of the uncanny of the psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch (1906):

Among all the psychical uncertainties that can become a cause for the uncanny feeling to arise, there is one in particular that is able to develop a fairly regular, powerful and very general effect: namely, doubt as to whether an apparently living being really is animate and, conversely, doubt as to whether a lifeless object may not in fact be animate – and more precisely, when this doubt only makes itself felt obscurely in one’s consciousness. The mood lasts until these doubts are resolved and then usually makes way for another kind of feeling

Freud has appropriated this concept. In short, the uncanny according to him is when the familiar becomes strangely unfamiliar and when this unfamiliarity touches the core of ourselves. To say it in a Freudian way: when the repressed makes itself unconsciously known. Playing around with the border between the familiar/unfamiliar dichtomy has become one of my main interest, yet very challenging, after this project.

This process of making this installation has also been the trigger for the development of my (then premature, looking back now, but maybe still underdeveloped) ideas and research towards what interactivity subjectively means in an artistic context and more specifically to my interest; the interconnection between touch and hesitation. Wanting to interact (touch), but not wanting to interact (touch) at the same time. Can I accomplish this by the means of literal human forms (inspired by the Uncanny Valley) and (dead) human material, such as hair? Provoking confusion and doubt, by the development of "weird" machines that contain human forms and material, yet that do not have a familiar form. The creation of the Hairball Machine is a good example of this thinking, taken into consideration that hair is both disgusting as well as very fluffy and therefore attractive to touch**. (An old work - the crying machine - contains a bite of this "weird" machine element as well).

Wanting to experiment with the Uncanny Valley without being a roboticist, some elements of this installation unintentionally tumbled kind of straight into the Theatrical Valley.


Plaster, glass, found and appropriated objects, lenses, wood, human hair, distance sensors, PIR sensors, motors, overhead projector

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