Last year in the 154MC module, we were asked to do an extra-curricular activity project, which could be based on everything. Mine was based off Slender Man, but at the time I was still in the beginning stages of planning those pictures, as I wanted to make it into a project for me. So the pictures that I made were simply introductory and planning pictures so that I would begin to get a feel for what I exactly wanted to do in the project.
So in order to give myself a better understanding for the project, then a lot further research would be needed in all areas
The first starting point then, as in other projects, would be to look at the origins. In 2009, in the Something Awful forums, a photography competition of a sort was created; a user by the name Victor Surge created an Internet meme depicting a thin, unnaturally tall man with a blank and usually featureless face, wearing a black suit.
In his picture, the man was seen hidden in the trees in a busy children’s park.
The inspiration for this came from the idea of the “shadow people”, paranormal beings that have supernatural powers from apparently the shades of the underworld.
When reading up on the shadow people, you can begin to see the links made that can be contributed towards Slender Man; both have the ability to produce an onset of hallucinations and paranoia, all that come down to psychological problems.
Since the introduction of this meme, many people began to actually turn this piece of fiction into real life, as many fingers were pointed to historical references, which seemingly seemed to reflect the Slender Man.
- One of the earliest ones is a cave painting found in Brazil that dates back as far as 9000BC, which depicts a large man with tentacles leading a child by its hand away.
- After this, the next reference is in Egyptian Hieroglyphic, which again showed a person with multiple limbs
- Perhaps one of the more talked about references has to be Der Ritter, where a multi-limbed skeleton is shown fighting. Freckenberg, the artist, was more known for his painting on human anatomy, so this was very unusual for him. Some say the skeleton was to represent the plague that was ravaging Europe at the time (1500’s) but others think that Freckenberg was trying to represent “Der Großmann” otherwise known as the Tall Man. This was a legend that used to take bad children who wondered into the woods late at night.
- In both Romanian and English history there are references to a Tall or Tree man, again with references to children being kidnapped and killed.
As depicted in the “history” (some of it has been changed/photoshopped in order for people to create this history) Slender Man has specific behavioral patterns. Some of this is creating pure fear into his victims as he taunts them by visiting them from time to time, letting them see his face, almost a psychological thrill for him.
SO with all this history made from the forums, it inevitably blew up via social media, presumably the only way that it became so popular; this is turn allowed various YouTube channels to create online video series that were based off the Slenderman, with one of the most famous being Marble Hornets.
This series looked into the life of a video director called Alex who was seemingly being haunted by Slender Man, with the episodes delving into the history of Alex and his friends as to some of their sudden disappearances. What made this series so famous was that it followed the lore very well as to what the Slenderman is, yet making it their own in a way though.
However, like most things, there is a negative with these things; and recently, the thought of Slender being real has had some serious consequences in real life. On May 31st, two 12 year olds were reported to have stabbed one of their friends 19 times on the basis that they wanted to become proxies (slaves of the Slender Man) and to actually see him and prove that he is real.
Sadly, this isn’t the only case; recently there have been more of these attacks where young children or teenagers have attacked love ones or friends in these attacks after reading up on Slender Man.
The main reason behind all of these incidents is that all the information is easily locatable online for anyone to see of any age; some people put it down to the fact that as humans, we are more likely to believe in the unbelievable. If we are presented with hard facts about something, the fear factor is lessened in most people; yet if we are told about something that we know that can’t be real, yet there are claims, this fresh fear in increased to the point that we start to believe (I myself have been one of those people.)
Yet these videos just weren’t the end of the Slender Man push; these myths became so popular, some game developers decided to take advantage and create games to push this fear to the next level.
The idea was very simple; you are stuck in a forest with no way of getting out, with the only solution being that you have to collect 8 pages to win, but for every page you would get, Slender would become more aggressive in trying to capture you. Simple, yet effective. The hysteria caused was massive, with more people becoming drawn into the hype. And it increased and increased to create another game, again with more hype caused by it.
And it was really these games that caused the start of this project. I had never heard of Slender before, and when I was first introduced to the game, I was hooked at first with fear, then competition and finally into fascination. I started to read up on all of the lore behind it to quench this thirst for knowledge.
And then with my friends, who enjoyed the game as well, we played our own real life version of it, which was when I discovered that it would make a good project to take in, as most people created fan art of Slender, and no real proper projects. SO this made me more determined to carry out the project to offer something different.
For the actual shoot, it was much more difficult then I had imagined it to be. To make it as realistic as possible, we went into a forest to get that background look into everything. However, when it got later, the trees actually blocked out all the lot rendering it hard to get any natural dark photos as flash had to be used to get the camera to properly focus.
This meant that the subject was clearly lit up when walking around, however the background was covered in more harsh shadows. This was problematic for me as it was becoming harder to get the picture that I was seeing with my eye on my camera.
So I decided to change things up a bit by using my iPhone camera; the reason behind this was that the phone was simplistic in taking pictures of what it sees rather then you changing all the settings.
This was much more in tune when it came for me taking the homage pictures of the game itself, as I was able to get the lighting to show everything that was important without loosing any detail at all. This is important as if I only used minimal lighting, it would have been near impossible to get Slender in due to the moonlight being blocked out, creating a darkness around the whole area.
What also made it more interesting was the noise created in the pictures; one of the myths that come with the Slender Man is that when you come closer to it with electrical equipment, he creates a disturbance with anything you may be using causes static.
Overall with these pictures, I was pleased with them as for a first attempt at something that was new to me; they have come out quite well. However though, not all of the pictures, in my opinion, are up to standard. A lot of these pictures are quite basic and are more in line with the game itself. For me to push it out that little bit further, I think I have to go down the lines of the proper myths that surround the Slenderman.
I think there are other areas of interest I have to look at such as lighting in films (Friday 13th is one that I will have to look at) so that I can fine tune everything down into a couple of pictures that really do stand out massively.