Uncanny Valley: Susi Krautgartner

I’m hugely intrigued with the work of Austrian artist Susi Krautgartner.

Susi Krautgartner photography

Unfortunately, apart from ‘nein’, I can’t remember a word of German from my school days (I really should have tried harder) so I’ve had to use rather basic translation services found online to decipher Krautgartner’s photographic intentions (the English translation is far more limited than the German counterpart):

Uncanny Valley is titled after a popular hypothesis of robotics engineer Masahiro Mori. The hypothesis describes a empirically measurable effect of emotional response to artificial human-like figures. Basically, people respond to more human-likeness with empathy. Surprisingly before Perfection is reached strong negative emotions like fear are measured. Starting from the Self I recall this effect, making use of common roles and stereotypes.”

Susi Krautgartner Photography

Susi Krautgartner Photography

So, with Uncanny Valley Krautgartner has attempted to create un-real characters to gauge the viewer’s emotional resonance to these not-quite-human/alive beings. Her, very philosophical, approach is based closely on a hypothesis set up n 1970 by ‘robot engineer’ Masahiro Mori.

Susi Krautgartner Photography

Susi Krautgartner Photography

There’s a little Sigmund Freud and Jentsch thrown in for good measure, but I’m afraid my investigative methods didn’t quite reach the understanding of these added theories in relevance to the images -perhaps your better minds can? A spot of object fetishism and mimicry with illusion could be a starting point.

Susi Krautgartner Photography

Susi Krautgartner Photography

I’m not sure how successful the images are if judged solely on their human-esqueness. They feel very rooted in the real, with obvious life-behind-the-eyes combined with genuine gesture. But theory apart, I still enjoy the images. There’s an unavoidable Cindy Sherman-esque feel about the portraits with her use of stereotype via female portrait, although the harsh absence of context pulls them apart from Sherman’s narrative-infused images. Check out more of Susi’s work on her website here.

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