Tag Archives: lovecraft

Weird Fiction and the Visual

> Notes on Writing Weird Fiction

Weird fiction is, at its core, playing on our deep fear of the unknown. When Lovecraft’s characters encounter an impossibility, language is used to weave around the subject – leaving the thing itself indescribable. My project, a Lovecraft/Cyberpunk comic with accompanying transmedia components, relies on the visual. However, to represent something visually is to give the audience knowledge of the thing. A direct visual representation provides the subject with a solid, understandable form, thus diminishing its effect. My task is to reconcile this.

I’ve enlisted the help of Lovecraft himself with this task, in a sense. Through consultation of his essay, Notes on Writing Weird Fiction, I’ve identified the key

> The Power of the Visual

“My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature.”

H. P. Lovecraft in T. Joshi 1995, ‘Notes on Writing Weird Fiction’

Here is my  Lovecraft uses careful language to describe a feeling or atmosphere that is often based on something visual. I want to evoke this.

The Power of Visual Material: Persuasion, Emotion and Identification (Joffe, H 2008) describes disgust as one of the most powerful tools in a visual work’s arsenal for the strong reactions it evokes. This is also something I’ve noticed in my perusal of other Lovecraftian comics – disgusting imagery is used as a shortcut to building a fearful atmosphere.

If a stone is thrown into a pond, you understand what created the ripples. But if all you see are the ripples, you’re left wondering if it were a stone after all. Maybe a fish? Did it come from above the water or below the surface? Or was the water disturbed by a deep shudder in the earth below it?

Original Post on Data Eater Blog: Weird Fiction and the Visual

The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

Lovecraft and cyberpunk intersect through a few key themes. These exist as more of a web than a list, so I’ll do my best to explain my thoughts on them as I go.

> Cosmic Horror

The idea of nihilism – that nothing you do could possibly matter – is the first one I would tackle in order to build an atmospheric foundation for my work. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror plays on our fear of the unknown, the unknowable, and the universe’s indifference. This is the core of weird fiction, when applied subtly. The most straightforward way to transpose this onto a cyberpunk setting is through a metropolis which functions as a microcosm of Lovecraft’s universe-spanning horror. Manifestations of the nihilism that comes with cosmic horror in cyberpunk include rampant drug culture and escapism, as well as human redundancy with androids and AI.

> Magic and Technology

The second issue to look at is a balance between magic and technology – or fantasy and science fiction. This is a particularly cyberpunk theme that has parallels in Lovecraft. The futuristic technologies that exist in cyberpunk spaces act as a necronomicon of sorts – a technology with fundamental importance yet unknown breadth.

> The City’s Beating Heart

beating_heart_of_the_metropolis

I dove into the idea of a “living city” as a starting point for my visual experiments with intersecting cyberpunk and Lovecraft. Though it’s a lot more straightforward than much of Lovecraft’s nuanced weird fiction, which relies far more on uncertainty, this kind of visualisation is an important part of the experimentation process. The top of the image is obscured in smog and darkness – it is distant, crowded, and cold. The closer you get to the bottom, the more vibrant it becomes – and more disorganised and slum-like. This is where the life is; the warm bodies on cold ground. Up the top exist the people with a voice but no ears, and down the bottom exist the people with ears but no voice.

Original post on Data Eater: The Beating Heart of the Metropolis

Building from Cyberpunk

>GOALS

My immediate research goal for DIGC335 is to unpack ‘cyberpunk’ as a term, as an aesthetic, and as a theory, and nail down the history and themes involved. This will allow me to begin building a digital artefact. For that, I have two trains of thought:

The first, a Lovecraft comic. Synthesizing Lovecraftian and cyberpunk settings and themes, I will either transpose an existing H. P. Lovecraft short story into a comic – or I will create a smaller series of comics as part of a larger worldbuilding exercise.

The second, a dramatic podcast on the observations of an AI testing facility. From the perspective of a worker at the facility who is present but not entirely part of its inner goings on, this podcast would consist of both thoughtful and off-hand observations of the various behaviours of the AI being tested, exploring a range.

Both branches would require additional research, unique to itself, beyond the theme of cyberpunk. My plan is to continue my research into cyberpunk and work on both branches until one of two things happens: a) one overrides the other in relevance and quality of research and content, or b) I have a sufficient sample of both, which will contribute to a larger world and story.

>THE GIFT

And, as a relevant interest piece, take a look at this short film:

Original post: Building from Cyberpunk // data eater