Finnish photographer Juha Arvid Helminen has created a black on black series that has me all aflutter. It’s the same mix of fear and attraction as the first time I read The Invisible Man or watched The Headless Horseman at the age of six. And a more recent instance–a shameful tickle in my pants upon discovering Pyramid Head in Silent Hill.
Besides the fetish appeal of complete coverage, tight-lacing, and uniforms, for me the mystery factor is the most potent reason for such a strong visceral response. Masking to create apprehension and giving the imagination freedom to explore its limits is such a common literary and artistic instrument that it’s almost surprising to feel just how effective it is. I’m sipping a cup of tea in the middle of afternoon–far from a spooky ambiance–yet every time I look at these images another infinite, matte black dimension of anxiety unfolds.