The Uncanny

The uncanny can be described as the strange or mysterious, usually in an unsettling way. It takes the natural and turns in unnatural using elements that highlight or focus upon certain features of an images that make will make it abnormal or odd to the audience.

The uncanny comes from the German word unheimliche, this is known as what is unfamiliar “the opposite of what is familiar”. What the uncanny intends to do is create the unknown, the strange within an image that we would normally deem natural.

In psychological terms, when we see something our brains will try and associate a familiarity to an image. However, with the uncanny, our brains are unable to do that. We struggle to find the natural within the unnatural therefore find it odd and unpleasing as we can’t relate anything to it.

Sigmund Freud wrote a paper using a story to ‘The Sand Man’ to illustrate the uncanny which he used. He describes it as being the illusion of fantasy and reality, the line that draws them together but never allowing them to met as such. It draws upon elements of both areas to create the uncanny.

But I shall not lie to you, the concept of the uncanny is a strange one at that…oh that irony! But it is and it is hard to grasp at times, especially when it comes to finding the strange, odd and abnormal sides to things. It is a hard concept to find the line between cliche and original. this is because we have become so use to the strange andy eerie through the endless amounts of horror movies we have all seen. This makes it difficult to find the uncanny in everyday objects or settings.

The best way to get to grips with the uncanny is to know about the uncanny valley and see where that leads us.


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