Uncanny Valley

Uncanny Valley

Uncanny Valley: Dogod series  October 2015

collage & print: recycled tissue paper, newspaper, solvent ink, acrylic ink, card | 600dpi | 30 x 21cm (12 x 8″)

Uncanny Valley crop1

morphing continuum between real and unreal dog and god with cognitive difficulty and reported eeriness thus perceptual conflict creating confusion a threat to concept of human identity predictive coding human god pretending humanlike terrible job pretending to be normal with anxiety flavour existential absence of spirit a disaster
– freaks me right out

Uncanny Valley crop 2“I cannot criticise as I suffer from coulrophobia (a fear of clowns) which is far less rational than arachnophobia” Sue Woodcock, Yorkshire Post, September 2015



  1. Is coulrophobia far less rational than arachnophobia? What’s to be trusted about men who wear masks, wigs and heavy lipstick, and who spend their lives hanging around children all the time pretending to be their happy, smiling friend, and above all, are sinister icons of neoliberalist terror? 😉

    • You know the article was in the Rural Review section, which makes it even weirder – you have a point – the vid is fucking scary. I wonder how much horror we block out because we’ve become desensitised to it? I’m connecting dots between our sense of our personal identity as humans, and the perception of whatever ‘god’ means, and pondering if there is a kind of Uncanny Valley response to the idea of god as there is in response to clowns (hence the fear of), and the weird fear of ‘god’ where we have attributed human characteristics to a concept (god) – god the clown, religion the circus, dog the reflection of human obedience, submission and divinity all at the same time. No theory, just a sense of general perception and response. Any thoughts Hariod?

      • In response to your idea of us blocking out horror, then it seems that as a species we have proved beyond doubt our generic, ubiquitous capacity to do this – in recent times, look at the normalised dehumanising treatment of ‘others’, or the tacit complicity in it, by the population of Germany under the rule of the Nazis, and then again as Yugoslavia disintegrated. I suspect that the majority of British citizens would go along with Cameron if he and the Americans initiated an Iraq War-style bombing campaign of Syria, accepting the losses of perhaps thousands of innocent lives as a price worth paying – but by who? Look at how Israeli’s accept a periodic genocidal culling in Palestine. Or then again, in intra-species terms, look at how we block out the horror of what goes on in our abattoirs (the ubiquitous abuses of legislation) and how we unquestioningly accept the industrial scale suffering that is wreaked upon fellow sentient and intelligent beings – all of this is normal and necessary, we presume.

        I am unsure about the Uncanny Valley principle Vesna, at least in terms of it being an innate disposition of all humans. I can see that cognitive dissonances arise when overt and covert perceptual mechanisms provide conflicting data, both of which are vying for representation in the unified conscious display. A gross example is Regan’s swivelling head in The Exorcist, in which the juxtaposition between youthful innocence and omnipotent terror are presented in one form. Even whilst Regan’s head is spinning, covert mechanisms continue to send perceptual signals that she is innocence and purity personified. You are right, there is an echo of this in religious teachings, wherein we’re told that God is pure, benevolent love, whilst at the same time we’re admonished to live in fear of the same, lest we invoke God’s wrath and damnation. We therefore must worship the very thing we live in constant fear of. The fearful effects are more readily absorbed in the anthropomorphising of our deities, because again we get that dissonance, this time between human good and something supra-human.

      • Interesting answer – its as if we have boxed ourselves into a corner with regard to the relationship between fear and worship, and then violence – its totally horrifying when analysed, and farcical.
        With regard to warring genocidal nations, what action is for the best? I just don’t believe in fighting fire with fire, but what alternative?
        The Exorcist is such a great example, so many parallels with the clown.
        Re: the absorbing of fearful effects, I can’t help feeling that this is part of the problem, it feels like a dangerous thing to do, psychologically speaking, not to mention the lack of responsibility in that – I realised recently that when one parks the deity, one has to assume full personal responsibility.

      • I just found the full version of Cowspiracy on YouTube and will watch it later – thanks Vesna! I saw the documentary Food Inc. a while ago and was very impressed with that.

        As to your impossibly difficult question about warring nations, then unsurprisingly I have no answers at all, other than to hope in some utopian revolution in human consciousness over time. I suspect we’ll destroy ourselves, or our environment, before that comes about though. Men do so love their fighting wars don’t they? I imagine that conflicts in the future will be cyber wars though, and that we’ll kill each other’s economic systems first, that then setting in train internalised conflicts between the haves and the have-nots. I must say, whilst I hang on to some hope for humankind, then as things stand it looks rather bleak. I’m sure you’re far too busy – it certainly looks like it – but I’m an admirer of Chris Hedges’ work. Here’s a documentary that is a synopsis of his title ‘Death of the Liberal Class’:


      • I will check out the video Hariod, thank you for the tip! Funny, you don’t strike me as a pessimist, if you don’t mind me saying? There is no doubt about how fucked up our race is, my god – but I firmly believe we have crossed the threshold of self-destruction, change is in the air. I agree with your conclusion, it has to come from a change in human consciousness, and you know, I think its started – but we have such a long way to go to repair the damage. Thanks Hariod, V

      • Hi Hariod,
        I watched OBEY, the video based on Hedges book – broadly speaking its good work, it expresses important issues in a small space. Yet it leaves me feeling apprehensive and not necessarily for the reasons it sets out to. There’s nothing here I don’t already know, I grew up in a family of dissident thinkers. The problem for me is actually stated perfectly in the film – that when a dissident speaks out, regardless of how erudite and factual, the information may as well be in Serbian, such is the extent of the brainwashing that we are inflicted with and born into. There is a fog that envelopes the human brain, very few reach beyond the fog – and simply reaching through it is likely to end badly, for all the reasons that OBEY states. Some don’t give a shit – and these are our human heroes. As we have both discussed already, the human being must evolve beyond the fog, or we are fucked. It’s arguable that a race of beings so destructive don’t deserve to remain in existence – and thats the beauty of a closed system: if we kill ourselves, well, we can’t blame anyone else can we? Perfect karma (in the sense of action, not spiritual BS). ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ reflects this perfectly, and yet remains optimistic; that at the last hurdle we may actually will ourselves into evolving, reaching beyond the fog. We can be philosophical – if we do, we celebrate while we work out how to correct our multitudinous mess in the world – if we don’t survive, then I would argue we don’t deserve to. I used to worry about this. Now I ponder it, and watch for signs of those who reach forth beyond the fog of the human brain, I’m fascinated. One particular American channeller (Lee Carroll), insists that we have ‘passed the marker’, and that human beings are now beginning to evolve a greater sense of compassion – that this will lead to not only peace in the middle east, but an enlightened planet over the course of the next millennia. This news gives me hope – but its a flimsy straw that I cling to, if I’m honest. This planet feels alien to me. I’m in it, but I’m definitely not of it.

  2. nannus

    There are some dangerous spiders (like black widdow and sidney spider). Just avoid them. Clowns, on the other hand, are human beings. Humand beings are the most dangerous species on this planet.

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