Reading Assignment 2

Amplifying the Uncanny explores the boundaries of what makes a generated image fake but reversing the generative process and to exaggerate the imitated features of Deepfakes. By producing these unreal images through manipulating the generator, the divide between natural and man-made is clearly evident, proving the vulnerabilities of a mechanical system no matter how

The uncanny is a psychological or aesthetic experience that can be characterised as observing something familiar that is encountered in an unsettling way. In art, feelings of the uncanny are often evoked to explore boundaries between what is living and what is machine. According to Sigmund Freud, the uncanny is the instance when something is familiar yet alien at the same time. The concept is that it is unknown yet also brings out something hidden or repressed. Freud suggests that the unsettling phenomenon occurs in relation to what is known of old and long familiar.

The uncanny valley by Masahiro Mori depicts the relationship between affinity/ familiarity to human likeness for still and animated objects. The graph explains that familiarity increase as human likeness increase, however when the human likeness increase to a certain point our familiarity with the object decreases drastically as the uncanniness evokes a sense of eeriness. This study of the human likeness of an object and our familiarity or affinity with it is crutial to study as it could inform us better on how to make object more human like yet familiar, especially in the field of prosthetics where achieving human likeness and affinity would help the user profoundly with their daily lives. 

The tendency to imitate nature has long been a concern in art, with certain sculptors and painters earning recognition purely for the ability to create lifelike artworks that viewers marvel at. Art forms like bonsai and ikebana also take a natural object directly and render them with the human hand to create something that is nature like, but not natural. Perhaps what makes the GAN framework create unsettling images is because the algorithm may be created by humans, however the generation is completely mechanical and robotic, a pattern too perfect that it could not be natural, that makes this form of imitating nature an eerie experience as compared to non mechanical art forms.

One Reply to “Reading Assignment 2”

  1. Good observation on the importance of a study of human likeness.

    There are numerous studies, primarily tangential but important, to this topic in psychology (since Gestalt psych in the early 20th century), neurophysiology and cognitive sciences, dealing with perception, reception and evaluation of human-like forms. Also, evolutionary psychology systematically studies the criteria of beauty and attractiveness in human nature and cultures, dealing with the evolved preferences and their factors.

    In addition to the comments in our Zoom meeting (regarding how the arts playfully abstract and stylize the exact likeness of nature), look up the work of Ron Mueck which is relevant to bonsai art.

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