Man Ray's Representation of Woman's Eye and the Uncanny

Bigaku 50 (3):25 (1999)

Woman's eye is one of the most important motives in Man Ray's works. However, in his images of woman's eye, the organ of sight is quite often manipulated, sometimes even. violently, and the images acquire a very uncanny nature. This uncanny manipulation of woman's eye in Man Ray's Ïuvre, both in photographs and objects, can be divided into four categories: "the Gazing Monster or Surrealist Medusa," "the Enucleated Eye," "the Closed Eye," "Beheading." The last can be regarded as the manipulation of woman's eye, because it is a way of punishing a woman with evil eyes like Medusa, who is exterminated by Perseus through decapitation. The uncanny nature created by these manipulations squarely corresponds to the Freudian concept of the Uncanny. In his analysis of uncanny effects in E, T, A, Hoffmann's novel, The Sand-Man. Freud defines the source of the uncanny as the castration anxiety symbolized by the eye torn out. All the four types of manipulations in Man Ray's images of woman's eye can be found in this or other Freud's essays on the castration anxiety. By visualizing this anxiety repressed in the unconscious or "the return of the repressed," Man Ray created the true Surrealist image of the emancipation from the reason and order through the direct manifestation of the unconscious
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