A photographic serial approaching a cinematic genre; a deformation of one art form to infiltrate another.
All kinds of snakes, centipedes and flies were living on every part of his body. Bees, wasps and uncountable mosquitoes were also flying round him and it was hard to see him plainly because of these flies and insects. But immediately this dreadful ghost came inside this house from heaven-knows-where his smell and also the smell of his body first drove us to a long distance before we came back after a few minutes, but still the smell did not let every one of the settlers stand still as all his body was full of excreta, urine, and also wet with the rotten blood of all the animals that he was killing for his food. His mouth which was always opening, his nose and eyes were very hard to look at as they were very dirty and smelling. His name is “Smelling-ghost.”
This is a visceral description of a particular ghost found in Amos Tutuola’s book My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and it is an image of horror, partly because we can imagine it. It is not a possible being, still we can imagine it; all of the elements are familiar. Tutuola’s
image is fictional—not derived from our world, where true horrors occur. A worldly horror affects a different part of the brain, inducing shock, denial, and other forms of protective response. A fictional horror fascinates, attracts, cruelly absorbs us, and offers catharsis, or at least a promise of more entertaining helplessness. It relies heavily on anticipation, escape from the unknown; it offers up the misshapen—the familiar overwritten by excess and uncertainty.
I’ve been using photographic serials as a way to observe various cinematic genres. So far my focus has been on the Horror Film. I am circling around the genre, relying upon a strategy of feigned blindness, as if feeling it with my fingers or other senses to discern its shape and not a simple definition. I am deforming one art form, the photographic, to viscerally penetrate another, the cinematic.