Invoking fear in kids is rather easy, but we adults prefer something more "awesome" and "horrible". It is an enjoyable experience sometimes to have our stomach turn.
This is just food for though and for fun: I am wondering whether it is possible to invoke fear in adults without grotesque. If I am to design an art object to invoke fear but it must be non-grotesque, is it possible? Or is it just an oxymoron that can't be accomplished?
Anybody has a thought on this?
I would probably go the Hitchcock route and suggest the thing causing fear rather than actually showing it. For example, instead of showing a murder, you could have the shadow of the murder being cast on a wall but have the actual murder off-screen and add a figure whose expression shows horror at viewing the murder itself. Or you could go for an abstraction of the murder and have a series of symbols that suggest what happened without spelling it out for you. I think the touch of mystery makes the scene more exciting because it invites you to imagine the worst. The revelation of what really happened rarely lives up to the mystery.
I'd say it's not grotesque things that scare adults, the opposite does, things more likely to happen or things that do happen, like hearing noises that sound like footsteps or whispering and just the simple concept off the 'unknown'. Gruesome things aren't really scary, I don't think.
Generally art has the shortest stick when it comes to fear since it can't have sounds or movement, and it's much harder to create visual imagery that's be universally scary, as opposed to books which can just hint and vaguely describe a scene and the reader's imagination will fill the rest.
However it's possible to create images that are very uneasy, if not exactly scary. Because Emipark is right, and adults tend to be more scared of things that are unknown, that invade our safe places (like, see movies with the subject of "crazy murderer invades home, where you are now trapped" and stuff like Paranormal Activity or the Doctor Who episode with that seriously creepy kid in the gas mask. And pod people).
Then again, this depends on whether you mean grotesque as in "strange, fantastic, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting" or just plain disgusting. Without anything strange or off, it's much harder to do stuff that'd be widely scary, where as drawing images of spiders (or socks) and showing them to arachnophobics (and sockphobics) would be scary imagery, but very limitedly so.
Last edited by TinyBird; October 1st, 2011 at 12:35 PM.
Just point to the stock market and watch their retirement funds go...bye bye .
Long ago I think there was competition on creating a website or app to invoke the most fear. A lot of big wigs jumped in even Microsoft. Majority of entries went the whole haunted house, gore, or monster route. The winning entry was created by a teen who made a simple looking app. It starts out with harmless looking menu you close. When you close that menu, two took it's place. You attempt to close those two, more would just replicate. Those menu would anticipate your movement and actively dodge mouse cursor as they continue to wreak havoc on your desktop much like a virus.
This entry created the highest range of panic and fear as user's ability spiraled out of their control. Kind of like driving your car on the high way and suddenly the steering wheel doesn't work...you get that instant..."oh shit!" moment.
Last edited by Pigeonkill; October 1st, 2011 at 03:57 PM.
Make a sketchbook happy, feed it a tip to improve!
Of course it can, even in static pictures. A picture where it's clear someone has broken into a house where the owner doesn't know they're there, but the viewer can see something bad is about to happen to the owner is a lot scarier than a view of a dissection or murder. Fire or something else that encroaches on the subject can also be terrifying, but I think less what you're talking about.
If you want proof that you can make an image relatively scary with benign subject matter, here's Mickey Mouse chopping a broom in half. (And unfortunately I couldn't even find a fantastic screen cap of it.)
The phobias list is a good idea. For me it would be as simple as painting a dark attic where you can feel the light getting sucked out of it by... something. Make the viewer feel uncomfortable, cramped or confused through your composition.
What people fear is threat. Generally the unknown isn't scary but rather it is either problematic or irrlevant. A threat is something that can take away something you value, that can be your life, or with the computer app example your sense of control, or in the stock market example your money. Therefore placing your hero into a threatening situation is the primary method of invoking fear, in my opinion.
"Beliefs are rules for action"
"Knowledge is proven in action."
"It's use is it's meaning."
If I don't know exactly what out there, it takes away my ability to understand and cope with the situation which is a lot scarier for me. It's not threatening me as physically, but it threatens my understanding of the situation. While I'll never be threatened by painted sharks, I can still have my ability to comprehend the situation taken away.
When I'm all alone at night this picture freaks me out and I don't see any blood anywhere. It's probably the story behind it, but I don't believe in that kind of stuff (at least that's what I tell myself). http://www.castleofspirits.com/hp1lrg.jpg
I think blood and gore grosses out most people rather than scare them.