"The abundance of monsters in circulation now proves that the collective imagination is in a strange and disorienting state, at once fearful of what can be done to the body through technology or trauma and fascinated by the possibilities those changes represent.
- Charlie Fox in This Young Monster
According to the writer and curator Charlie Fox, art history contains a panoply of horror narratives from which one can gain novel insight into the machinations of collective ingenuity. As in Goya’s etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, acute horror is the antidote to a rationality that suffocates creative thinking. In this understanding of horror, to grapple with a fear of the unknown and unknowable is to unlock the powers of invention that push human thought to its limits.
In recent centuries, however, the propagation of horror across sequels, textual adaptations, video games, action figures, rollercoasters, and other forms of licensed merchandise has extracted a stockpile of rigid formulae from these once-fantastic reveries of the reasonable mind. If an essential operation of the horror narrative has been to chart insurrections towards the mysterious zones that rest along the margins of human thinking, how can this enterprise even be realized when horror has been distilled into a uniform genre? And what exactly is it that these stories then communicate when they routinely fall back on an aesthetic repertoire that renders them immobile and predictable?
The Artist as Frankenstein is an essay and lecture that implements speculative philosophy to explore the aesthetic and conceptual trappings of the horror genre. By applying the work of thinkers such as Quentin Meillassoux and Gilles Deleuze to an analysis of cinematic and literary works, we will see how the genre of horror has fashioned itself as a deterrent to immoral behavior and how contemporary art might assume the mantle of a horror once again capable of generating unrestrained ingenuity through the philosophical circuitry of contingency. "