Bryan Walker BFA Illustration Thesis Spring 2014

Celebration Of Abhorrence

Body horror is a form of art that mocks the human race through revealing human flaws, and intentionally nauseating its viewers. The figure heads of this genre (Clive Barker, David Lynch and David Cronenberg) had a mission to put their viewers in the front row seat of humiliation and helplessness because they highlight the destruction or frailty of the human body and mind. With this idea taken into account, how could these narratives and visuals be appealing to such a large mass of people? In this paper I will be exploring the cultural history of body horror to observe the social theory and psychology embedded within the genre. By uncovering the evolution of this abhorrent genre, I seek to understand what purpose this genre has in our society and, more particularly, define the experience. Although many people would argue (even the creators of the genre) that body horror is cathartic, I will push further and point out that the viewer’s experience is much deeper than catharsis or lesson learning. Body horror can be seen as a composite experience of the abject and the sacred to create a sublime attraction which gives the genre its tenor.

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Spring 2014