“Mannequin: A dummy used to display clothes in a store window. An artists, tailors or dressmaker’s lay figure. A form representing the human figure used especially for displaying clothes or fashion.” - Webster’s Dictionary

There is a certain art to mannequins, especially where you sometimes find them. Some people have problems with mannequins and find it easy to feel uneasy around them. There seems to be many reasons for this.

Part may be due to horror movies such as “The Mannequin” that always seem to bring mannequins to life. Or “Abe” where a mannequin becomes a robot who seeks meaning and love with horrible results. 

People find them creepy for other reasons. The discomfort of seeing a human face that is not human.
Phycologists call this syndrome the “Uncanny Valley.” Something that looks almost but not quite right, it sets off our thinking to the feeling it’s wrong, eerie or even revulsive. When it looks human but is not, we distrust it. This syndrome is deeply rooted in us. Some phycologists feel it goes back to prehistoric times when we lived in tribes and there were great threats all around. The tribe had to survive and move quickly. When a member didn’t seem right, they were often left behind or even killed. The tribe needed everything to be right and functioning.

This “uncanny valley” uneasiness has increased due to robotics, 3D computer animations, lifelike dolls and the emerging prevalence of virtual reality. The closer to real life these become, the more uncomfortable we feel.

Still mannequins have served us well since they were first used in 1730. Today they are used for shop displays, artist models, by the military, CPR training, sewing, security surveillance and art themselves. They have taken a place in our real world.

Maybe mannequins are just too perfect. They say, “There’s no beauty in perfection.” 

To me though, they will always be fun found art worthy of a camera shot.

David Young