The Art of Monsters (In Real Life)

Monsters in Photography

I saw monsters when I was a kid. I hope everyone else did.

At some point in my life, the part of my brain that let me physically interact with my imagination ran away. It might have burrowed deep somewhere to escape the structured realities that I had to live by to be a successful person. Or maybe it just up and died of a quiet little cancer.

Our imaginations might have a lifespan as long as a rabbits. An expiration date before the bacteria comes in to spoil it. Maybe the “crazies” of the world are living with expired imaginations. That part of the brain never died and it rots in place, inhibiting their abilities to interact with the realized world. Some of those crazies, the lesser infected, continue to hold onto to that secret piece of the world we knew as children: through art, through photography, through film, and through stories.

In this week’s selection of artwork you’ll find artists who saw (see) what I saw.

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4 Comments on “The Art of Monsters (In Real Life)”

  1. Mara
    02.27.12 at 2:23 AM #

    Shawn, this piece is beautifully written! Reminds me a bit of Georges Bataille, and of how he viewed the manifestation of this “secret piece of the world” as an accumulation of non-productive expenditures. That is, anything dismissed from the realm of usefulness or better said, anything that does not have an apparent and material end in itself.

    • 03.12.12 at 7:20 PM #

      I would like to read about this. Suggested reading?

      • Mara
        03.12.12 at 9:19 PM #

        Anytime 🙂 Bataille’s Visions of Excess (1933). Particularly the chapter called The Notion of Expenditure.

  2. Kevin
    03.4.12 at 10:49 PM #

    Shawn these pictures are awesome, I enjoyed this post.
    After I saw these pictures it made me feel a few things, so much that I wanted to try and sum my feelings briefly.
    Imaginations can run a muck and rampage if you let them. Throughout my life, I went from waking in a terror so severe I had tears in my eyes. Other nights I would drift in and out of sleep with the backlight of the television on so that I could see the monsters when they got closer. Sometimes instead of feeling as though I was being watched, the worst would manifest and that floating head would be at the bottom of my feet, mouth open, ready to bite.
    These visuals are very much similar to the chilling sensation I would feel down the back of my neck and throughout my fingertips. I began to associate anytime I had the chills would be the night the aliens had waited until my parents were asleep, murdered them, and then came to harvest me for organs. The aliens were always looked like people except much paler, veins were visual, and they’re eyes were glazed over pitch black.
    Maybe these visuals last because they are so detailed in plan, so potent in clarify that I even scare myself sometimes just having recalled them.
    As I have matured I have learned these terrors were powerful extensions of my imagination, where present and past sensory information was made irrelevant. I learned self control and selective focus could help me not feel as helpless when I wanted to go to sleep. I learned videogames like sonic the hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot could take my mind of the mumbling of the white ghost.
    This white ghost was a repeat nightmare, and feeling i had up until maybe 4th or 5th grade. It was a lady an older lady in a wedding gown, with veil covering her face. She was never violent and she sat in a straight back chair from i believe my grandparents house watching me as i slept. The feeling and energy I can recall was “resentment”, never violent, I was never fearful for my well being like the other monsters, this one just watched, as if to say, “I’ll get you but not now.”
    I’m still sort of drawn to movies like Eraserhead, books like World War Z, websites like Weird New Jersey. The supernatural has always fascinated me, not because of it’s rumored existence of ghosts, but innate power of imagining. Vengeful spirits could roam Gettysburg seeking to be remembered. Not posing a threats for physical harm, but to serve as a reminder past atrocities, that you’re imagining to remember something greater.
    Revisiting these monsters of my imagination much later makes me appreciate my youth, and how even the most horrifying of stories may just be your mind playing tricks on you. As with any trick, once you’ve seen it a few times you begin to grow familiar. There is always one resounding alternative, and that is we can will ourselves to acknowledge or ignore these monsters, even if they are just hints of our buried ambitions that our brain are so poorly organized during sleep.
    The same things keeping us awake sustain themselves on a poorly rested individual, how advantageous of them.

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