Exactly half way through 'Visual Language', the second module of my Illustration MA, I had a revelation of sorts. Encouraged to use pareidolia as a tool to inspire creativity, it reminded me of a time in my mid-twenties when I started Googling psychological phenomena during a particularly uninspiring temp job. Yes, it really was that boring. I was especially interested in the connection with supernatural phenomenon, either visual or aural and the sheer power of the human mind to generate and draw its own conclusions. Are ghosts real or do they only exist in our minds?
Pareidolia is the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music. Pareidolia can be considered a subcategory of apophenia. (Source: Wikipedia)
Every aspiring artist seems to go through the 'what's my style' conundrum. For me it was a huge part of wanting to do an MA, to dedicate the time and have the resources to finally get on top of what it is I'm actually trying to do. Turns out it's what I've been doing all along; of course, it always is.
The early 80's were still being blown by the winds of the late 70s. In my small world the local library stocked the Usborne World of the Unknown series, children's TV programming often showed repeats like The Owl Service or similar weirdness, late night public information films were horror shows all of their own. Media output had a distinctly supernatural flavour.
So during my course, after being encouraged to dig deep and look back to locate our personal obsessions as creative fodder, back I went to a childhood obsession with ghosts and the supernatural. The difference being this time with less stomach-churning fear and a more scientifically minded approach.
That being said there is nothing like a good ghost story, or a gothically creepy graveyard, or an abandoned house, or a tomb emblazoned with memento-mori in the shape of skulls and symbols. I find death imagery fascinating as it shows trends and fashions just like illustration. The way we represent it and how closely we allow death to come into our every day world changes with the era. The times we currently live in allow little escape from our own mortality, yet our rituals and proximity to the dead change according to societal acceptance.
Being given the opportunity to delve back under the duvet cover and re-ignite my fascination/ horror of the supernatural in the name of academic research sparked a whole new level of creativity for me. Inktober 2019 was a creep-fest and the research continues, seeping into my work. They say create from what you love, in my case that's the stuff that everyone else avoids.