CABI­NET OF CU­RIOSI­TIES

Computer Arts - - Design Inspiration -

My fas­ci­na­tion with the macabre be­gan at the ten­der age of four. First through TV shows like Tales From the Crypt and the Goose­bumps nov­els, then through films like The Shining and Phe­nom­ena. Then just about ev­ery other medium there is: art, mu­sic, film, fash­ion, de­sign, lit­er­a­ture. Any­thing with an ob­scure feel to it had an ir­re­sistible ap­peal to me.

My par­ents never thought much of it un­til pu­berty hit like a dark wave, paint­ing ev­ery­thing black. Ad­mit­tedly, some grim el­e­ments of my per­sonal style were just a phase. Even­tu­ally, I tran­si­tioned from a teenage Ly­dia Deetz to a more ma­ture Delia Deetz, swap­ping dra­matic melan­choly for mys­te­ri­ous chic. Those who have seen Beetle­juice will un­der­stand. But de­spite this evo­lu­tion I can’t say that I ever grew out of it – my heart never ceases to skip a beat at the sight of some­thing ar­cane.

Of course, its aes­thetic is what first drew me to the ob­scure. Some love the colour­ful poppy fields of im­pres­sion­ist Claude Monet – I pre­fer to be haunted by the beau­ti­ful paint­ings of Henry Fuseli. How­ever, I knew that my love for the dark arts went be­yond its visual ap­peal. Es­sen­tially, art in what­ever form is about what it makes you feel. Fuseli’s paint­ings are grotesque and po­etic, veer­ing from the del­i­cate to the lu­di­crous. His art al­lows me to project emo­tions that oth­er­wise have no place in the real world. Ro­man­tic, tragic and vi­o­lent, gothic nov­els like Drac­ula and Franken­stein re­flect sim­i­lar feel­ings of de­spair, dread and de­sire.

Classic hor­ror lays bare a wide range of emo­tions that helps me chan­nel my own. The genre of­fers the per­fect bal­ance be­tween re­al­ism and es­capism. To this day, grue­some tales of mon­sters and cold bod­ies hold up an un­wa­ver­ing mir­ror, re­veal­ing un­set­tling truths of hu­man be­hav­iour, big­otry, gen­der pol­i­tics, class con­structs, death and strug­gles with men­tal health. Ab­sorb­ing art through a dark lens has taught me im­por­tant lessons about my­self and about the world around me. It has sharp­ened my senses and made me eter­nally cu­ri­ous. Cu­rios­ity is what makes peo­ple visit haunted houses, see psy­chics and learn about the oc­cult and the spir­i­tual – we need to know that there is more to life, be­yond what the naked eye can see. We’re on a quest to find an­swers, des­per­ate to un­cover the un­known.

For me, the macabre has al­ways been en­twined with the un­ex­plored. En­gag­ing with it through a story or a visual aes­thetic al­ways makes me feel a bit out of my depth. It’s scary but it’s ex­hil­a­rat­ing and be­ing in that state of mind is also where I’ve had some of my big­gest pro­fes­sional break­throughs. The leg­endary David Bowie de­scribes this per­fectly: “If you feel safe in the area you’re work­ing in, you’re not work­ing in the right area. Al­ways go a lit­tle fur­ther into the wa­ter than you feel you’re ca­pa­ble of be­ing in. Go a lit­tle bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touch­ing the bot­tom, you’re just about in the right place to do some­thing ex­cit­ing.”

Hor­ror has been a com­fort­ing friend, yet has also pushed me to go fur­ther into the wa­ter. It has served as a trusted com­pass that has led me ex­actly to where I am now – the editor of a fem­i­nist hor­ror magazine that hope­fully en­cour­ages oth­ers to go a lit­tle bit out of their depth too.

Valentina’s cabi­net of cu­riosi­ties in­clud­ing, front and cen­tre, her own Sus­pira magazine

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