The Uncanny Valley

December 2019

University of Chichester


Emma Bowman


The Last of Us Title Music

Composed By:

Gustavo Santaolalla


Molly Stolton, Megan Heddershaw, Gemma Davies, Mason Pretorius, Lauren Kimber


This work was inspired by a phenomena termed The Uncanny Valley by Japanese robotics professor Masahiro Mori, who defines his concept by saying:

"In climbing toward the goal of making robots appear like a human, our affinity for them increases until we come to a valley, which I call the uncanny valley.”-(Mori, 2012)

The valley is not only confined to the world of robotics, it also speaks for those odd and slightly strange non-human creatures. The sort of ugliness and vulgarity seen in horror films; clowns with over sized noses, abnormally tall killers and people in masks so as to disfigure their appearance. These all fall under the Uncanny Valley.


The aim of this work is to take the audience on a journey into that very valley. With influences from the grotesque theory and dark uncanny themes often found in horror film, Emma transformed her dancers into living monsters designed to unsettle any onlookers. The movement was developed through improvisation and task based research around the theme of the inhuman, an exploration into how the body could move in such a way to distort it as much as possible. Making the dancers seem as foreign as possible, instilling a sense of fear and bewilderment. 


With heavy influence from Crystal Pite's Betroffenheit (2017) this work then developed its way into the realm of the theatrical with the use of masks worn on both the front and back of the dancers heads, accompanied by live vocalization to further frighten audiences. This work truly began to embody the Weird Moving ideals opening up many more creative avenues to be explored in future work.