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kelliott's picture

 I find this discussion on

 I find this discussion on beauty to be really intriguing. I think you all have made some really interesting points, and I especially like your statement that beauty is relative, MSA322. Like aybala50, I haven't really seen or read anything about Frankenstein until picking up this book. I mean, I've seen "Frankesntein-esque" characters in movies, you know, around Halloween and whatnot, and maybe saw a film back in the day, but that's pretty much it. A little while ago I stumbled upon a website discussing this art installment in the UK called, "The Frankenstein Project." I remember it was causing some stir online and in the city where it was installed, mostly because of aesthetics--which I think ties into this discussion oddly enough. "The Frankenstein Project" was created by Tony Stallard in 2001 and installed in the Great Promenade of Blackpool, England. I personally find the structure a bit strange looking--it is an airtight chamber similar to a diver’s decompression chamber, bolted to the promenade’s cement ground. Viewers can peer into the portholes to see an a large blue neon skeleton of a killer whale. 

frankenstein project

 

The piece is meant to comment on Blackpool's Victorian freak shows, which were active during WWII. Though I don't know much about Blackpool's history, a little googling has lead me to believe that these freak shows were fairly popular, especially as tourist attractions. After a series of controversial freak shows, the Blackpool Improvement Act was passed in 1935 which provided the town's authorities with the power to restrict exhibitions and sideshows deemed 'objectionable'.

Stallard has created, in a sense, a miniature freak show. The viewers are intrigued and disturbed, cautious but curious...And the installment itself has been subject to vandalism and complaints, many people calling it an "eye sore." I guess one could say it isn't very "aesthetically pleasing," kind of like the creature in Frankenstein, no? And because of this, it has been taken down and put back up several times now. It's different than the norm of "art" --a freak in itself?

The notion of "freakery" and its relation to Frankenstein is fascinating. "Freaks" are individuals who are deemed different than what society deems the norm. In freak shows, the typical freaks are ones who appear to be physically unusual humans. Freaks seem to intrigue us because of their "unnatural" qualities--they are somewhere between human and animal, real and unreal. They tend to blur the sexes (e.g., the bearded lady)...They are "freaks of nature." The shows were based on the entirely physical, visually different elements of the freaks. 

So, to answer your question, aybala50, I do think it was his unnaturalness that repulsed people. However, I believe this very unnaturalness is equated to ugliness, thus one could argue ugliness encompasses all deemed "unnatural." That is why people would go to freak shows---to see what is they are not. There are many psychoanalytic texts that discuss the human fascination with the "other." Lacan states that "the unconscious is the discourse of the Other," that the human subject is created through social interaction. Perhaps the creature is beautiful, but his "otherness" cannot be denied...The creature seeing his reflection, realizing he is different than the humans he saw, is similar to Lacan's Mirror Stage, when the baby realizes it is itself (i.e., sees hands in mirror and realizes s/he can control their movements). I'd be interested to look into the Mirror Stage even further and really psychoanalyze (yeah, I'm a psych major, go ahead, roll your eyes) the creature. There's lots to pull out from his "unnatural" mind!

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