Arts + Culture » Visual Art

Uncanny Valley creeps

Ambera Wellman questions pornography, gender and desire through her eery painted portraits.

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A face only a mother could love.
  • A face only a mother could love.

Ambera Wellmann's Uncanny Valley takes the already spooky images of silicone dolls (Real Dolls, the World's Finest Love Dolls) and turns them into unsettling portraits. Dead eyes and empty mouths tie the paintings together with an eerily similar family resemblance. Set against bright, flat backgrounds, Wellmann's plastic subjects gaze at the viewer seductively, but elicit a chilly response. Wellmann used roboticist Masahira Mori's term "uncanny valley" as a jumping off point, the term describing the sharp dip in a graph charting a viewers's empathy to a human simulation as the depiction comes close, but not quite close enough, to looking like a real human---whether in 3D computer animation or robotics. This valley of revulsion is where Wellmann's show shines, questioning pornography, modern technology, gender, desire and that good old-fashioned creepy feeling. --Stephanie Johns

To October 29, Gallery Page & Strange, 1869 Granville Street

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