What happens in a small town? This was the title of my project that influenced my work process by creating a story called ‘Dearly Departed’ that reflects this question directly. The main themes include isolation, the Uncanny Valley effect and an overall Midwestern American horror aesthetic. Using my own experiences of living temporarily in a small town in the US, I wanted to capture the eerie atmosphere of what these towns seem to have looming over the initial friendly guise of its citizens. Usually these areas can be very closely guarded with the resident’s lives intertwined with each other. While they may be welcoming at first, there is always a sense of not belonging hidden behind forced smiles and kind gestures. The history of these towns can hold sinister secrets, such as unsolved missing person cases to murders between neighbours, usually dismissed as a strange occurrence as ’nothing could happen in a quiet neighbourhood with sweet, church-going nuclear families’ although this ironically is the the opposite, due to the isolated way they live which can cause a deeper psychological detachment from morality by hiding behind a facade of being an ‘upstanding citizen’ and the pressures of upholding this image.
During the project, I formed a narrative and characters that would tell a fictional, exaggerated story that holds many symbolic references to the previously mentioned themes, such as the plot line where a parasite that I designed had contaminated the food supply of the small town, causing the residence to then behave erratically and strangely. There are mentions of supernatural entities that perished and have haunted the town for decades, a metaphor for how the town itself can be treated as a character as has its darkest secrets still lingering and attached to it hidden under the surface. The main character had to explore his hometown to face his own fears after moving away when he was younger due to his past trauma from an event involving a home invasion, however he lost his memories of it occurring clearly and so he wanted to piece together what happened.
For the final result, I animated a video that tells a loose story of the events that occur within this narrative through symbolism and shots of the events that took place, resembling a video game trailer format to entice the viewer into wanting to know more about it and discover what happens for themselves. I used a range of mixed media, such as traditional illustrations and textures overlaying and acting as backgrounds for my digital animations. These scenes involved programs such as Photomosh and Cute Cut, providing interesting editing choices as a key way to demonstrated the nightmare quality and uncanny horror of the video by appearing disorientated and psychedelic, both achieved by quick cuts and camera motion as well as patterns that are manipulated by their environments. For the animations, I used the technique of frame by frame (on Procreate) and the method of’ ‘tweening’ using my editing software.
Scroll for more