The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002) // Film Stills + Blurred Photograph

Having looked at themes of distortion and horror, through researching artist's work such as Francis Bacon's portraits, and Andy Denzler's glitch paintings. I decided to look at horror movies and remembered a photograph used in the 2002 remake of The Ring, by Gore Verbinski. Where a group of high school student's faces had been blurred out and distorted, in order to communicate with the protagonist and the viewer that something particularly dark had happened to them. I decided to look at this photograph and a few other stills from the film, and analyse them in order to possibly draw some conclusions and ideas from them, that could influence my own work.

This close up shot reveals to us this upsetting photograph, that the protagonist comes across while flicking through her photos that she has just had developed. In terms of the film, this particular scene is quite a shock for the main protagonist, who comes across this photo to realise that something unsettling has happened to these teenagers. Personally as a visual I really like the use of this photograph, as it freaks out and disturbs the viewer initially, in a way that isn't disgusting like a lot of horror effects and visuals. As this is simply surreal and makes us feel really intrigued about what exactly happened to the teenagers in this photograph. The way the faces of the 4 teenagers are the only parts of the image that are distorted, is really quite powerful in conveying that something very specific affected them all in a very psychological way. Aesthetically I like this because it really is quite striking to see this relatively small but impactful distortion, to this otherwise normal looking photograph. 

The colours in the photograph have a low saturation, which creates this cold and raw aesthetic to this image, which I think really adds to this surreal and disturbing effect, that it is intending to create. The framing of this image in relation to the film, is very effective in conveying the idea that this distortion has something to do with this cabin that the teenagers are in front of. The rule of thirds is used well in this image, to make sure the viewers eye does not stay focused on the teenagers, who could have been placed straight in the middle and that is all we would have likely paid attention to. This placing of the group of people slightly to the right, creates a diagonal path for our eyes to follow, which leads us up to this cabin, which is just as important in this image as the teenagers stood in front of it. The use of a higher aperture also helps do this as everything in the image is very much in focus and clear for us to see and identify.

Looking at this distorted image has made me think a lot more about possible experiments I could try with longer exposure times and the movement of a subject, to create a very distorted and unsettling effect.

I also decided to look at some film stills of the cursed tape, which is very much iconic to this film, as it circles around this video tape that curses those who watch it. The contents of this tape is a number of eerie and disturbing in some cases, clips that are broken up through the use of white noise, which creates this very haunting quality to the tape, as when the video clips finally stop, all the viewer is left with is this distressing white noise on the screen. 

All the colours in the video footage, like in the photograph are very desaturated in colour, creating a very raw and clinical effect to the visuals, which is a very common effect used in horror films to create this eerie and joyless mood, which really evokes a sense of emptiness onto the viewer. A good example of this effect is in the film Silent Hill, where pale colours are used with effects such as mist, to communicate the feeling of emptiness and abandonment that had occurred in this town, which is the main subject matter of the film. 

Visually what makes a lot of the visuals so effective for me, is this strong use of tone and composition. Despite being a lot of texture in some of the imagery, the composition and subject matter is still very minimal. This is because of the use of a high contrast, as dark shadows and bright white shades are used, meaning we look more at the form of the subject matter rather than the specific colours that are there.

The faceless girl we can see in the above still, is used throughout the cursed video and is very much iconic to this film. This use of anonymity in a very haunting way, is powerful in communicating this sense of powerlessness that the viewer in the film feels, as they witness themselves being thrown into this situation very much blind and intimidated by this faceless girl, therefore evoking these feelings onto us as a viewer, who tragically has to watch the person go through the experience, of watching this very disturbing tape with it's curse. For me as a visual, this still represents how something very simplistic and haunting, can make such a huge impact emotionally on a person experiencing and viewing a visual piece of work.

Looking at these stills with this faceless girl and the blurred photograph of the teenagers, has made me think about how I can use anonymity as a tool in my work, especially in terms of communicating something much deeper, than simply representing the subject matter of the image itself. 

Below are two stills from the cursed tape in which the visuals have particularly inspired me. The use of busy, monochromatic textures, are really impactful on the viewer and for me they really are thought provoking, in that they almost shut your senses off and make you think about something much deeper than what is in front of you. I think in terms of what I can apply from this to my own ideas, is how I could use this white noise, or something with a similar texture to communicate something very conceptual to a viewer, much deeper that the subject matter of the image itself. 

Looking at these film stills, has given me a lot of inspiration and ideas to think about for my final piece of work. Including the use of composition, anonymity and minimalism, to communicate a much more powerful and conceptual message, with a visual image. I've also come across this idea of using white noise and what it can communicate and the impact it has as a visual. I now want to look into how my current thoughts and ideas could be presented in a final piece of work and what exactly I could do with these ideas about light, movement and white noise.


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