Thursday, April 05, 2018

Tropes versus Lovecraft - Part 2: Under The Surface

Here's the second part in my series of posts on lovecaftian iconography (find Part 1 here).

At first I thought I'd call this trope  "Jaws" for obvious reasons, then I thought maybe "Der dankbare Ägir" because that's the oldest instance of this concept I've come across (although not connected to anything Lovecraftian; and I'm sure there are older ones).

In the end I stuck with "Under the Surface", simply because it not only describes the compositional principle but also the underlying metaphorical gist of it. I guess "Above & Below" or "Upstairs, Downstairs" would have worked as well.

As I've said in a comment to the last post, I'm not interested so much in depictions of the various Mythos creatures here or even similarities in images illustrating scenes from Lovecraft's tales. After all, it is not surprising that a certain character or scene from a given story would be often depicted in a similar way. These images don't strike me to be text-based illustrations but instead the intention seems to be to find a visual expression of a philosophical idea in a pop cultural framework.
Now, of course the problem of clichéd imagery doesn't only apply to Lovecraftiana, but in this genre it strikes me as particularly interesting, because of its quasi-religious (albeit atheistic) narrative. It's almost as if these tropes evolve like other religious iconography because they best represent a core emotional effect cosmic horror is supposed to have. Naturally, that effect is diminished by every new instance you see, not to mention the problems with visually representing something which is not supposed to be depicted - another aspect which the topic at hand shares with some religions.
But like in religious iconography the lacking impact of conceptual novelty is replaced or compensated for by a joy of recognition paired with the a reconjuring of the familiar ideological content. Think "Crucifixion", think "Pieta".
Well, perhaps this is all very trivial, and I'm sure there's a wealth of art historical texts about iconographic conventions and stereotypes in other fields, which go deeper into this matter than I ever could. I was just struck by the frequent recurrance of these images in my social networks and thought I should somehow collect them. I found none of these via google; they just popped up in my timeline and usually people thought they were great representations of a Lovecraftian perspective. Make of that what you will.

Finally, if the series of images above wasn't enough, I guess you can can tell a trope is a trope when it becomes ironic. This might very well be the final stage before becoming completely stale and meaningless.


As with the previous post, this is not meant to put any particular artist down, nor to critique any specific piece of art. I don’t know most of the creators’ names but I think given the context of this post it’s perhaps not in their interest to be credited here anyhow. If any artist would like to be credited (or if they want their artwork removed) please let me know and I shall do so.



Marcel Ruijters said...

I like all of these examples, Fufu. Even those with obvious humourous intent have a creepiness that works.

alkbazz said...

yeah i love this effect too, really related to real life & water (what we see / what is hidden) also very efficient in plastic arts field (a lot versus single, massive unknown vs small known...)

Doomroar said...

When your navigator fucks up and you end in the calm belt