Lani, Josh & Vivienne.
Throughout this project our group, named A-I-B-O-H-P, explored our lived experience of fear, formative pain and phobia. After first assuming our art practices would have little common ground, we found our conversation turning towards the darker side of life, and our focus was quickly discovered.
Initially we looked at ‘phobia’ as a more abstract concept, but decided it was more interesting to delve into our personal ideas of fear. None of us imagined that we would fit the clinical criteria for a full-blown phobia but were interested to see what frightening things we could find under the surface of our collective memories. What horrible thoughts existed in the corners of our imaginations? How could we induce these feelings in our viewer to challenge and disrupt them, but also to elicit empathy? Much like the abstract expressionists, we wanted to find our own visual language to discuss and translate into common understanding our most intense and horrifying thoughts.
To explore this, we looked at some literal visual modes of storytelling, such as comics or written words, but realised something more immediate and visceral was required. Recorded speech was a good place to start, as it allowed the discussion necessary for getting to the heart of anxieties, as we eventually did in the form of a half hour podcast. This involved learning how to operate the sound studio and how to talk into the equipment to achieve a clean sound.
Surprisingly, the result was a light and sometimes funny discussion, which was mostly polite but also revealing. Many interesting ideas were raised, and relationships between our experiences and the contexts of our lives and our earliest memories were discovered. However, this recording was jarring, because even though we were trying to recall and explain things that made us very uncomfortable, we spoke in the culturally accepted tones of humour and, in a way, denied the intensity of our emotions.
Thus, this recording alone would not provide the experience we intended from our final work. Some unashamedly dark visual material anxiety was needed, something that broke free of the socialisation we were bound by in our discussion. Additionally, by automatically creating these images through the app ‘Dream’, we were able to frighten ourselves, and determine the effectiveness of the images with immediacy and a fresh perspective. Each image has been generated using key words and phrases from our discussion, and each of the members of the group was tasked with producing the images for their own fears, ensuring the result brought about the same feelings that we had tried, and failed, to convey through words alone. This was also the origin of our group name, which incorporates both A.I., the source of our images, and phobia, the inspiration.
The name of the app, ‘Dream’, reminded us of the surrealists and their interest in psychoanalysis and the world of the subconscious. In a way, we have been attempting to unlock and unleash the images of our own subconscious and shift the plane of reality just slightly in order to leave a crack for the nightmares we experience to seep into our work and disrupt our assumption of safety and the monotonous normality welcome to expect in day-to-day life. The AI software allowed us to do this and provided the stark comparison to the podcast that we were looking for.
We have decided to display the images with the words we spoke playing, with some background music, to emphasise the gap between what is expected of us as polite participants in group dynamics, and the true horror of what the mind is capable of when allowed to run away with itself. We hope you find our work interesting, but mostly, we hope you feel afraid, very afraid!!!