Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne, 2018

The uncanny is the psychological experience of something as strangely familiar, rather than simply mysterious.It may describe incidents where a familiar thing or event is encountered in an unsettling, eerie, or taboo context.
Ernst Jentsch set out the concept of the uncanny which Sigmund Freud elaborated on in his 1919 essay Das Unheimliche, which explores the eeriness of dolls and waxworks.For Freud, the uncanny locates the strangeness in the ordinary.Expanding on the idea, psychoanalytic theorist Jacques Lacan wrote that the uncanny places us « in the field where we do not know how to distinguish bad and good, pleasure from displeasure », resulting in an irreducible anxiety that gestures to the Real.The concept has since been taken up by a variety of thinkers and theorists such as roboticist Masahiro Mori’s uncanny valley and Julia Kristeva’s concept of abjection.