Naar Huis

Het is laat. Vermoeid loop ik uit het station van Amersfoort de donkere straten op. Het is een eindje lopen, daar heb ik me op voorbereid. Met een witte koptelefoon ga ik de strijd der verveeldheid aan. Met muziek wordt de wereld bijzonder. Muzieknoten kleuren de weg, je ogen bepalen de lijnen. 

De constante bass drum bepaalt mijn snelheid. Heen en weer wiegt mijn hoofd terwijl ik de straten observeer. De denderende bas voelt diep, strijdlustig. Het spreekt moed in. Een dappere strijder, waarin ik ben getransformeerd, draagt een besmeurde Waylon hoed, een lange zwarte jas van dunne stof en loopt op afgetrapte zwarte Vans. Ik voel me enthousiast, wat waarschijnlijk ook van mijn gezicht is af te lezen. Mensen die terugkomen van een after-work borrel kijken namelijk een beetje verrast. Ze verdwijnen als snel van mijn podium. De strijder vervolgt zijn weg op de constante bass drum, het ritme van zijn weg, zijn bestemming.

‘Can you feel it coming back?’ De strijd ligt ver. In het verleden. Tijdens mijn over-toegewijde playbackshow verschijnt er bij het woord ‘feel’ steeds een lach. Het woord leent zich er goed voor, het hoort bij de overwinningsmars waar de strijder van geniet, van voedt. De straatlampen van de recht-door-zee en altijd saaie weg van het station naar het hart van Amersfoort veranderen in fakkels. Ze zijn de punten van herkenning. De strijder weet dat hij goed gaat, dat ik goed ga. 

De weg is, naast de after-work borrelaars en drie bussen die zich haasten naar hun eindbestemming, een wit doek voor mijn interpretatie. De brede straat, die zich heeft onderverdeeld in een voetganger pad, breed fietspad en autoweg waar op geraced kan worden, is van mij. Van de strijder. Ik fantaseer dat ik midden op de straat loop, geheel in teken van de terugkeer. ‘We are coming home’. De galm in de verschillende lagen benadrukt mijn stemming. Het voelt goed om richting huis te zijn na een lange dag. Terwijl ik de lange weg inruil voor de kleine bochten en straatjes van het Amersfoortse centrum verandert Home in een Jimi Hendrix nummer. De strijd is gestreden. Ik ben er.

The Uncanny

The combination of amazing visuals and sound has always been the ultimate expression of emotions. An artist can visualize a feeling or moment in time in sound and images. It is only normal that these emotions are not always pleasant and happy; sometimes there is a feeling we can’t quite place but comes up, like a shiver over our backs. Woodkid, a French musician, combines music and visuals in a romantic, mysterious way in which he celebrates youth, in all hopes and disappointments. The work I Love You expresses a very uncanny feeling, or as Freud calls it: unheimlich.

Freud describes the uncanny in his essay The Uncanny from 1919. He states that when we explicitly look at the words heimlich and umheimlich, they seem to be the opposite of each other. Freud rejects this and says that actually, the heimlich can become the unheimlich because of something that is being revealed. A Heimlich situation is something familiar, safe and agreed upon. But it also conceals a secret, something hidden that is supposed to be hidden. With the unheimlich, this secret comes to light and makes the familiar unfamiliar.

It comes out of the homely feeling as something strange or even scary. But how is the feeling of the uncanny expressed in the video (and music) of I Love You by Woodkid? I will mostly be describing the video because it is an assignment for Visual Culture, but I think the music is a big part in portraying the uncanny.

In the video we see what seems to be some sort of minister walk into the church. Other people are there and they stand up when he walks by. He seems anxious as he washes his hands and face in Holy water. He says something in Russian and sits behind the organ. The music starts and immediately we see a beautiful landscape (see submitted screen shots of the video). The man, lead by religion in his life, walks confused through a grand and mystic landscape like he’s searching for something. He seems to be alone. It can be seen as some quest for reason and maybe God himself (lyrics: ‘’where are you’’ and ‘’I love you’’). He then throws himself in the ocean with a desperate move. It looks like he surrenders to the power of nature (or God), something bigger than himself. At the end of the video you see him back in the church, he turns and looks at the people in the church and then at his hands. They seem to begin to rot, which is the last shot in the video.

I can only explain the video very short because I want to describe how I see the uncanny in this video (and music). I think the uncanny (unheimlich) reveals itself on two different levels in this video. First I think the church can be seen as the heimlich, the house of God where it is familiar and safe. The main character is frustrated that his love is unanswered (like we hear in the lyrics: ‘’you only seem to care about you’’) and hopelessly searches the wildest landscapes for that holy and freeing experience. This doesn’t happen and he sort of gets swallowed in the earth and loses his faith. When he returns to the church it isn’t the same anymore. The secret, the frustration is out and exposed in the place that was once safe. The familiar is no longer familiar; it feels strange and cold. The home has thus become uncanny for the main character, the minister.

The uncanny also appears for the people in the church. During the video some of the people are in close up and also look confused or sad while the minister plays the organ. The heimlich is, for them, personified in the minister himself. A man of God, almost a superhuman for his connection to God, who makes the church a safe place. During the video they seem to sense a change in him and with that the unveiling of the uncanny. The minister has unveiled his secret and releases his doubt in his faith in the church. Nothing is certain anymore, nothing is safe. The uncanny is something that can appear in a place but also in the way an individual develops in life. A familiar face or place than becomes something less pleasant. And this can change everything in life and with that, in the arts.

Written by Gracia for the course Visual Culture @ Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

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Ontologically, metamodernism oscillates between the modern and the postmodern. It oscillates between a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, between naïveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity. Indeed, by oscillating to and fro or back and forth, the metamodern negotiates between the modern and the postmodern. One should be careful not to think of this oscillation as a balance however; rather, it is a pendulum swinging between 2, 3, 5, 10, innumerable poles. Each time the metamodern enthusiasm swings toward fanaticism, gravity pulls it back toward irony; the moment its irony sways toward apathy, gravity pulls it back toward enthusiasm.