Monday, June 14, 2010

down for maintenance

i've been drawing crap like this for years without forming an idea about what it is i'm actually doing. it only recently swelled up into my consciousness (after years of pkd input, the introduction of donna haraway to my reading lists, and listening to janelle monae on repeat for 2.5 weeks) that i'm drawing the dismantling of human beings as if they were machines. and so what if they were? and who's to say that they're NOT? asking questions about what it means to be human through the analysis of androids/machines/robots/dolls is hardly revolutionary. or unique. but, in my humble opinion, it also never ceases to be INTERESTING.

there's one more thing to add to the list of catalysts: mannequins.

i've recently had the misfortune of running into the phrase "uncanny valley" a disturbing amount of times because i take pictures of mannequins in a mental hospital setting. everyone wants to talk about these damn mannequins. and i have no idea why. obviously i find them interesting, or i wouldn't have taken the pictures. so the first question is: why did i do that? well. they're disturbing! a pile of mannequin parts stuffed into a bucket in the basement of a 140 year old mental hospital begs to be photographed. but does it matter where they are? not really. if i found such a bucket in the basement of macys i'd take a picture of them too. so it's them. not their location. why pops up again.

and the answer, i believe, lies in a quote from a movie: "even a doll can seem to have a soul."

all those discarded, possibly souled, corpse mannequins. they creep you out because they could be you. well, here's the shocker ladies and gentlemen: you won't be so lucky. you are going to die. and you will decompose in the ground or get burnt to a crisp in some funeral parlor's basement oven. you're not going to stick around as long as those mannequins. they're gonna outlive you. contrary to the hallucination you've built up, you're not tied to history and you have no link to the future. i don't care how many children you have. they aren't you. YOU are going out like a candle. maybe you've got 50 years. maybe you have 5 minutes. either way, you're toast.

that's what I think of the uncanny valley. the puppets raise up in us something from our deep, wet unconscious... the fact that we are limited. we don't like them because they're NOT. we stare at them and wait for them to DO something. take some creepy action. because we've learned that immortality breeds malevolence. look at the christian god. he sure is a bastard. he'd probably be a better entity if he could just. fucking. die.

that would explain jesus within a context i find interesting. but that's a whole other tangent.

back to robots/mannequins/androids/dolls/machines and the human as inhuman. or the inhuman as human. the question is not inherently disturbing and therefore the aforementioned valley can take a flying leap as far as i'm concerned. the point is not to indulge the reaction, it is to explore it. and to consider, if only for a moment, that you, me, everyone else, is nothing more than a machine. all full of wetware and unexplained emergent consciousness. we can be broken, we can be transcendent, we can be nothing, we can be universes. the definition of humanness, the definition of real, the definition of existence... all of them can be tossed around on the bitparts of machinery.

through this, i hope to (for myself, with no hopes of influencing anyone else), work through why i am not special. or why i am. or why you are. the ways in which we all move through the world we call real, even when it is not. why are we broken? what can we do? where are the right pieces? what are the steps? what is the convergence of magic and machinery? the hardware and the soul? all these things. for what it's worth.

that's why i'm calling these pieces human/inhuman.

and that is all.


Craig Eliason said...


Aaron said...

yeah you really do need to read that book we were talking about wed. Its right along those rant lines :)

Candy said...

When I worked at the Mall of America I would have to go into the basement sometimes where the stores had storage spaces in wire cages. I always had to pass Victoria's Secret's cage, which was stuffed with whole and partially dismantled mannequins. You would have liked it.

Sara said...

oh man. i love de Chirico.

victoria secret mannequins in cages... that just begs for a feminist analysis. beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Anatomical tattoos - think a few people have committed themselves corporally to your observation.

Rutger Hauer was so good in Blade Runner... (Reggie)

Sara said...

he also got the best line of any android in film: "i want more life, fucker."

Sara said...

(as seen here:

Sitha said...

Whoah, just finished reading the textage. Good one, that.
There needs to be another mixed-media Dolly, sometime inna future...

Oy said...

...and so, Mr. Data, you begin to understand our human condition.