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Design, Society, Nature—Image Module

Students on the Visual Communication course have been busy diving into their new Image module with tutor Phil Gomm. Phil has been teaching them about the uncanny and the art of Tableau-Vivant.

Students were sent out to explore The Margate School and Margate, in search of objects and places to use in their module brief: “Wish You Were Here”

Image c/o: Visual Communication students Claudine Derksen, Susanne Hakuba, Claire-Beth, Emma Self, Georgia Dack, Grace King and Zoe Artingstall

“The Margate School had plenty of spaces that could be viewed with that disquieting lens thanks to it being a former department store, home to plenty of old objects and a couple of spaces that remain unchanged. The simultaneous vestige of the familiar gives it a domestic-yet-not-quite feel that echoes Freud’s ‘Unheimlich’ definition of the uncanny.”—Grace King, Visual Communication student

Image c/o: Visual Communication students Emma Self, Ian Jones, Zoe Artingstall. Click on images for details.

“We chose three locations that we felt showcased the essence of Margate with the caption ‘Wish you were here’ in mind as a starting point for our ideas. We created our own ‘sets’ in the amusement arcade, on the main sands beach by the boating pool, and in the Old Kent Market food hall”—Zoe Artingstall, Visual Communication student

Image c/o: Visual Communication students Ian Jones, Grace King, Zoe Artingstall and Claudine Derksen


The Tableau-Vivant directly translated means “Living picture”. A static scene with posed actors, scenery, and props that reflect a moment frozen in time. Some elements used in the Tableau Vivant are:

Mise en scene—The arrangement of visual elements in an image are used to tell a story, convey an atmosphere or feeling, or build a world. Translated it means placed on stage. It’s a common consideration in film and theatre as well as visual arts. You can break it down into the setting and props, costume, lighting, and people.

Hyperrealism—The inability to distinguish simulation from reality, where the two are blended together and the illusion of reality becomes more real to us than actual reality. The concept defined by Baudrillard is that hyperreality is a representation without an original, it describes something that does not really exist. “The Authentic fake” takes on a life of its own. In this day and age, we are increasingly more likely to accept hyperreal images as real as they become more ubiquitous through technology.

The Uncanny

“Uncanny is in reality nothing new or alien, but something which is familiar and old-established in the mind and which has become alienated from it only through the process of repression” —Sigmund Freud

The ‘uncanny’ is a concept in art associated with psychologist Sigmund Freud which describes a strange and anxious feeling sometimes created by familiar objects in unfamiliar contexts.

The term was first used by German psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch in his essay On the Psychology of the Uncanny, 1906. Jentsch describes the uncanny – in German ‘unheimlich’ (unhomely) – as something new and unknown that can often be seen as negative at first.

We look forward to sharing the latest work from our students with you. You can learn more about our Visual Communication programme here.

The Margate School, 31-33 High Street, Margate, CT9 1DX, United Kingdom