Hans Bellmer: Dolls in life

I’ve looked at some exhibition of Hans Bellmer’s works. His sculptures of human form are quite intriguing to say the least. I’m beginning to find the whole medium of ‘dolls’ to be interesting in the light of artificial life and its pursuit.

Hans Bellmer is mostly characterized by his work on various deformed sculptures of human using ball-jointed dolls in mostly unusual and inhuman positions/circumstances. His works almost always exude a thick milieu of sexuality about them, especially disturbing to some people since the topics of his depiction of human forms are mostly prepubescent girls.

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It is supposed that Hans Bellmer first took such direction as a revolt against the Nazi cult of the perfect body-being idea, by creating a form that is far away from the idealized portions of conventional mind yet emanates certain quality of attraction on the primordial level, which takes the form of sexual attraction.

The very action of creating deformed things that in fact more closely resembles certain innate qualities of humanity than platonic and heroic gestures of the conventional study of human form itself is interesting, in that life-like quality of human body had been detached from the physical format of the body itself. Of course, in this case the trait that connects Hans Bellmer’s dolls to life is the instinctive connection between the dolls and its audience that strikes a cord in the heart of the observer as a quality that immediately resembles some quality of the humane, despite its definitely inhumane, perhaps even cruel forms. Sort of manifesting paradox, which is itself a very life-like property if I say so myself.

While hovering around the works of Hans Bellmer, a thought crossed my mind. What if there is a doll that appears so life-like that it resembles a human being in every way, on every scale of observation? Would it be considered as a living thing? How much does a human perception of life weight in when determining something is alive or not? If Hans Bellmer’s creations can appeal to the human senses, what is the criteria for something previously inorganic to appear as if they were alive to a human being? Would it be possible for such an artificial construct to be so close to what we define to be human, to the extent that it is perceived as more human than human?



In the end it seems that our perception of life is that life resembles us, not the other way around. At the sensory level, it is the matter of communication, not necessarily through any formal language, that determines the trait of life in casual observation.

Would it mean that the bridge between art and science lies in the matter of communication? A communication between the world and what we consider to be the substance of humanity (whatever that might be)?


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