The Uncanny Imagination
As a visual artist and filmmaker, it goes without saying that imagination plays an important part in my work. My artwork often combines moving image, photography and other media which push my creativity into radical new areas. To this end, I even formed a surrealist group called F.O.L.D which used the automatism techniques of surrealist leader Andre Breton, where art is created without conscious thought.
However, my current practice is tied to Freudian theories of the uncanny. His theories find subtle ties between the homely and unhomely, the familiar and the foreign and my work explores this. My fascination with both surrealism and the uncanny shows a consistent interest in the unconscious and how it drives the imagination.
Also, I am intrigued by the way work produced centuries ago can trigger the contemporary imagination and even lead to poignant coincidences. For example, I recently produced an artwork called, In A Glass Darkly which has been selected for two exhibitions – coincidentally both opened on the same day April 29th, 2022. Freud’s aesthetic theories of the uncanny invite you to notice such coincidences and their relevance in your creative work.
In my depiction of In A Glass Darkly the subject looks through a window as rain and the Sub-Saharan sandstorm splatter the glass. You may recall that such sandstorms recently reached Britain because of freak weather. The title references a short story The Sandman mentioned by Freud in his Uncanny thesis but I did not know until recently an Ingmar Bergman movie had a similar title. A movie described as ‘Uncanny’ well before the term became widely accepted. This, for me, is truly fascinating; the potential of the imagination to be triggered by the work of others – decades, even centuries later – and develop in boundless directions.
Eddie Saint-Jean is a visual artist, photographer, and filmmaker working in moving image and photography influenced by Freudian theories of the Uncanny (Unheimlich), which refers to how familiar, everyday items and subjects have unhomely, eerie or uncanny elements. Cinematic cultural references often appear in his work.