01 December 2017

Monsters of the mind

Trying to figure out what makes a shape into a "monster" - something repulsive and frightening), I went through my photos taken since hitting on the idea of using monster-like shapes for the japanese woodblock course. There do seem to be a lot of them - I started looking for accidental monster-shapes - and even though lots have been weeded out, this post does seem to go on forever! 
The twigs have nothing to do with it ... or do they?

Birds on the move, from a print - flying birds can be frightening in themselves

Seeing monsters everywhere!
Broken bones - monstrous, especially when inundated with river-bottom mud
Juxtapositions can do it, or reinforce it

Monstrous goings-on behind the drying plaster?

The predatory, knobby (mutilated) branches
Knobby and bulbous feels monstrous to me (something inside throbbing to get out?)

It suggests slimyness and uncontainability

Another effect of the light - the chaos and danger of garbage, in the gloom

Some monsters have tentacles, a long reach

A situation - shifting light, and something trying to creep in, or escape
If these were people, this could be a situation of psychological monstrosity

Contorted limbs, severed limbs

Contorted and slumped bodies presuppose lifelessness
The monster outside, trying to get in ... are plants so inert, after all?
A natural process - sprouting potato - captured in bronze, looking monstrously unnatural

Reflections - shifting, the changes caught in the corner of the eye

... or shaped purposefully

Partly it's the material - mud-soaked straw? tar and feathers? 

... partly it's the shapes and juxtapositions

Many stories going on here...
... and others here ...
... and here

Shadows have a lot of monster potential; ordinary things can have monstrous shadows

Various blobs on the ground

Windblown waste, configured randomly

Entrails, remains ... too close to "the bone"

Terrible processes (burning, explosion, etc) = monsters

Blobby silhouettes = monsters

This one is strikingly horrible - like a flattened animal corpse
or a thief stealing away in the night

A squished packet with gilding, rather beautiful ... or is it a bit too much like
the one-eyed monster?

These are boats, but if you're looking for monsters
 it takes a while to convince yourself of that

Some configurations have a threatening aspect; screaming faces?

Chaotic and possibly, but not completely, monstrogenic

Design by Balenciaga, but no less monstrous for all that ... those sinister folds...
and that reflection of a ghostly shape... 

The monster theme started with this inky, spontaneous, unthinking, left-handed drawing
Conclusion: it's a monster when it has asymetry and blobs and empty places and sharp protrusions, and could be imagined to resemble a human or animal form (we're hard-wired to look for faces in amorphous shapes, after all) and yet looks unnatural, therefore frightening or at least disquieting.

The monster-making happens in the mind of the viewer ... somehow an expectation is formed, and the imagination is triggered ...
Here's one I prepared earlier (rubbing)

This horror was unintentional -
the scar-like marks and missing nose, and the proportions,
 make for a monstrous look


patty a. said...

You have shown lots of inspirational photos to work from!

Sandy said...

Ok. I thought I was the only one who saw so much in a blob! though mine are usually dragons, and I have learned to keep them to myself because the excitement of showing someone tails off the longer it takes to get them to 'see' it.
Hope you go through a phase where you discover the gentle monsters, too!