Terrified and Curious comprises a series of images of fictitious spaces, shaped by the fantasies of the men who attend them. The spaces, constructed and photographed within “Blender” (Blender Foundation, 2020), are inspired by darkrooms: places where men go to explore their sexual desires with each other in the cover of darkness. The images are accompanied by a series of documentary style videos of men who speak candidly about their experiences in these spaces. The title of this project, “Terrified and Curious”, comes from one man’s description of his feelings as he first stepped into one such room.
This project is part self portraiture and part confessional . From the age of sixteen onwards I was living away from home and had begun spending my evenings going out to the local LGBT venues and was socialising with men on the gay scene. During these years I had also been completing my Photography Btec, then my undergraduate, and of course starting my MA with Falmouth university. My photography had always been concerned with liminal suburban spaces, paths and structures, and almost entirely shot at night. I am an avid video gamer and my work has been heavily influenced by survival horror video games such as Silent Hill 2 (Team Silent, 2001). The work of photographers like Gregory Crewdson and Jan Staller also drastically inspired my work. However it wasn’t until I came across the concept of the “uncanny” during further research into Crewdson that I realised there was a link between the dark, menacing and enigmatic nightscapes of my photographic work and the dark, enigmatic, highly sexualized spaces I was working and playing within.
While "Terrified and Curious" has been produced as the final submission for my Masters Degree, my aim is not to leave it there, but instead to continue the project, so that it may add to, and expand upon, the current discourse surrounding spaces in which people can safely explore their sexuality.