tape_2046 / beatrice vorster                    © 2023 


This project has sought to develop an audiovisual morphology of vampire lore mediated by screen media with particular emphasis on the intersection of folk and the internet. The practice of vampiric world-building is shaped by formulaic synthesis of sound and image on screen. It presents a blueprint for cultural anxiety around ‘aliveness’ in an increasingly cybernetic and augmented experience: the real jeopardy in the lore framework is this loss of mind/body autonomy. It is this disembodied quality of vampirism which enables it to stand in as a useful case study of the way in which, before the aid of user generated content platforms, a cult narrative can become an ‘aesthetic’ through unofficial distribution. It is an echo which is severed from its source while still maintaining its recognisability. The film produced for this project plays with the dynamics of human/non-human through three stages of transformation: becoming vampire, becoming animal and becoming digital. Moments such as the direct address through the vampire’s gaze (explored as a recognition contract above) feels like a future haunting of the vlog, a forced proximity which connects the viewer and the producer. The narrative relies on the splitting of sound and image and their in-tandem rippling, teasing the parameters of offscreen. It is unclear whether what we hear is connected to this film, or the larger lore metaverse, or another work entirely. Moreover, the extensive use of sub-bass sine waves (an auditory convention of contemporary horror cinema) masks all sounds of human activity in the cinema space while vibrating the body, at times, in an uncomfortable way. The silence is artificial and imposed and represents this blurred line between virtual and actual, between animate and inanimate. Moments in which it retreats reminds you of your body. 

The threatening transferability of the vampire is tied to their virtuality, accelerated in online space.  The paranoid relationship to ‘reality’ in vampire films - whether fictional or actual, is similarly constantly redefined in the webspace. Many techniques of ‘truth-telling’ - the sensational ‘reveal’ that everything is not as it seems - are lifted from cinematic production, particularly of genre film. There is, of course, a political valence in this uncertainty of ‘fact’ as a relative term which is not to be underestimated. Although always lurking beneath the mainstream surface, the resurrection of vampiric narrative as a representative of myth-culture is historically aligned with moments of technological concerns relating to corporeal instability and becomes a harbinger for future paranoias. Recently, there has been an increase of high-budget outputs - ranging from Oliva Rodrigos’ pure pop Vampire track (and music video which makes excellent use of running, a formal consistency of vampire movies); to Renfield starring Nicholas Cage, Marvel’s remake of Blade and a personally anticipated remake of Nosferatu by horror auteur Robert Eggers. This resurgence is reflected in both the increasingly conspiratorial internet public, and in creative practices which have shifted to re-engage with the fantastic, aesthetically and conceptually. This project, while concerned with the series of dualities presented - living/nonliving, animate/inanimate, virtual/actual, real/fake - is motivated with the mechanics of formulating fiction in the lineage of folk production. Specifically, the project attempts to understand how Fisher’s thesis that “cybernetics has been haunted by the Gothic'' has been incorporated into the trend machine through analysis of the sonic qualities of vampire output and the ongoing mobilisation of this folk fiction (Flatline, 6). Folk, by definition, has no designated origin - it is an activity, story, idea, which is circulated amongst a people. It implies a lack of authorship and rather promotes collaboration (consensual or otherwise) in which “where creative expression is the property of the community at large” (Miller, 101). The longevity and spread of the Gothic vampire - like folk culture- is its enduring ability to morph, to act as a proxy; as a sample.

Ken Russells Lair of the White Worm (1988)