The uncanny is a complex and uncertain concept that is probably best described by its ambiguity. It is closely linked to a rapture of what is already known, nescience, superstition and a resulting insecurity. The irritations created in this way can question our everyday routines and our sense of identity, threaten personal comfort zones and lead to a feeling of uneasiness.
However, if we look at the attractiveness of scary films and ghost trains, for example, we still cannot
neglect that the uncanny has also an exciting character to certain extend. For our project, the focus is on the one hand on this attraction of the uncanny and on the other hand on the irritation that is triggered by ambivalence and the questioning of the familiar. This tension between powerlessness and self-efficacy leads us to assume that the uncanny or uneasiness represents a kind of emotional junction that motivates us to act. Thus, it can animate both to run away and to investigate something further. This situation can also be observed when dealing with new technologies. We have set ourselves the task of strengthening the path of curiosity and constructively countering the feelings helplessness.
The Uncanny Valley describes for us a moment in which the erosion of our worldview and thought patterns can lead to a feeling of being lost. In order to find orientation on the journey through this valley and to feel able to cope with new impressions, an experienced guide is helpful – metaphorically speaking.
Changes become possible when we dare to leave our comfort zones and venture into unknown territory. The uncanny characterizes the realm of the unknown and new, where we don't yet know our way around, where challenges await and where we are unsure whether something is good or bad. In this place it is possible to form new points of view and to expand your comfort zones.
In the project, we first used irritating aspects of the uncanny as indicators to identify relevant topics related to bioeconomic innovations or changes and, based on this subjective experience, derive relevance for a societal discourse. We then asked ourselves how an encounter with these topics can be characterized by curiosity and openness and how guidance can be provided.
Our goal of the journey into the unknown is to work with everyone involved to gain new perspectives and create experiences that motivate us to take action to collaboratively create a fertile ground for the bioeconomy – Farming the Uncanny Valley!
An extended description of the concept of the uncanny can be found in chapter 3 of our book.