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The Blobsquatch Against The Rational: The Abject Romance of Low-Res, Information-Mythologies & Divination in Cryptozoological Media

Posted by Regrette Etcetera on December 17, 2010

Bigfoot-as-blobsquatch forces the side-exit of the ruins of the (para)scientific method, opening new imaginative realms for the cryptid, new definitions of the screenal-field of a troubled Nature, and new tensions in photographic reality. This publication interrogates the problems that the blobsquatch poses for the Cryptozoological community, and looks at the blobsquatch as a form of delightful info-myth, a form of data-divination, which blurs signal-noise as figure-ground as science-myth in a postmodern take on the troubled constituents of the Medieval Bestiary.

Contents:

–       Blobsquatch: A History

–       Blobsquatch Theory: Cryptid Cliches &  “Unknowability” as “Unphotographability”:

–       From “Proto-Blobsquatchery” to “Blobsquatch in the Expanded Field”: The Work of Carl Diehl

–       Endnotes & video addenda.


Blobsquatch: A History

‘Blobsquatch’ is a term Bigfooters use to declare an alleged Bigfoot photo too blurry to determine anything- literally a blobby sasquatch. Thus the term “blobsquatch” refers to any vaguely Bigfoot-shaped mass seen (or not) in an otherwise unremarkable photograph of, for example, trees. In other words, “Blobsquatch” is specifically the object in a photograph of a supposed Bigfoot or Sasquatch that has a lack of definition and detail, whether an ostensible illusion created by a play of light within an often unfamiliar natural environment, or the result of camera movement, lack of focus, glitch, or more recently the effects of digital high-zoom and pixelation.

Thus these blobsquatch “photo-creatures” which may or may not be, but probably are not, a Sasquatch, are pareidolic[1] phenomena that assist people’s imaginations in “seeing” (finding/divining/projecting) a Bigfoot. Related photo-cryptid forms include “Blob Ness Monster” and “Blobcats”, and in physical terms, the Globster[2]

The Wooldridge Yeti

Due to its efficacy, the term blobsquatch has been retro-extended to past photographs that are not specifically about North American Sasquatch/Bigfoot. One such instance is the infamous Woolridge “Yeti Rock” image.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leah4PRA2ZA

Blobsquatch Theory

Often a little flick is sufficient for a decision to be made. Heads or tails, a book opened at random…The bit of noise, the small random element, transforms one system or one order into another. —Michel Serres, The Parasite

 


While various sorts of cryptid evidence slowly accumulated as the twentieth century wound down, no one managed to capture images of a quality comparable to those obtained decades earlier. As in the case of Our investigation of the “Bigfoot Found on Mars” controversy, most blobsquatches refer back to earlier images and forms- and most often the 1967 Patterson-Gimiln film- Paterson-Gimlin film (arguably the most well-known cryptid photo in existence)- in a case of debatable images based on debatable images for their forms.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUAHJC9XgyA

With each advance/change in electro-visual technology, new forms of Blobsquatch come into being- new types of noise, resolution increases, and necessarily, the home software (photoshop) of the cryptozoologist leverages new spectra, deeper layering and control. (For more on this see Our work  “Here Be Dragons”: Armchair Exobiologists love Photoshop”). Perhaps most interestingly, the blobsquatch exists as a central figure of the ‘signal to noise’ ratio/relationship of the image- the figure-ground collapse, which in this case often interrogates varying affects of ‘Nature’, the boundaries body and media/technology constructs. The image below re-orders the signal-noise spectrum as the ‘blob-squatch’ continuum. We will return to this more fully below.

The viral nature of the blobsquatch- it suggests a possibly infinite expansion, inhabiting the fuzzy areas of all images, ‘treated’ or not- is curtailed only by credulity and definitional limitation. For example, one defunct CZ group defined “blobsquatch” as “anything in a picture or film which might be possibly mistaken for a Sasquatch”, which would suggest that the definition of the Cryptozoological ‘Field’ (in both senses of the word) could take on hallucinatory broadness. (See Our work “A History of NASA photograph PIA10214” for a treatment of alleged transparent cryptids). This process necessarily implicates tensions between constructions of ‘natural space’-the screenal reality of most experiences of natural space, the reality-status of the image, and the re-animating or re-wilding leverage of the cryptid. (For more on this, see Our work “The Bunyip as Mega-Faunal Oral Memory: Colonial Projections in Cryptozoology” and ‘Wild Hairy Men’: Cryptozoology, Class and Masculinity in Australia and the USA’)

The video below illustrates this- the delineating marks becomeing delightfully unstuck (especially from 0:51 onwards)- and thus implicates almost all of the space/nature/screen as blobsquatch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_jV2qmUs6k (ORIGINAL VIDEO REMOVED BY USER)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZFP7TutmrIframeborder=0

In “documentary” photographs of UFOs this elevated natural-referential status also threatens to come unstuck, to the point at which light- Photography’s basis- itself is imbued with negative and terrifying connotations.  For, despite eyewitness accounts that describe “flying saucers” as tangible technical apparatuses, they rarely have been photographed as such.  Of the innumerable photographs purporting to document flying saucers collected by the government agency Project Blue Book, very few reveal any recognizable form.  Often, these photos only show spots of light floating in the sky. It is not the fact that these photographs image what could be potentially dangerous technologies in the service of unknown beings that makes them terrifying, it is their impenetrable quality that does so.  These photographs “picture” that which cannot be seen – cannot be known.  They do so by employing the sign of the formless – the blob– and thus imply that the sky itself is an animate medium, that these atmospheric floccus- the flashes, thickenings, and quickenings- on the photographic field coalesce and disperse alternatively paranoiac and utopian intent.

While some measure their world with a very rigid yardstick in excluding all blobsquatch photos, of course, a misleading blobsquatch could be a really bad picture of an ill-defined Bigfoot in the woods[3]. But the cryptozoological field sorely- if not completely- lacks hard evidence, and that one person’s expunged blobsquatch could be another individual’s “initial” piece of potential evidence (blobsquatch motes in the eye of the beholder), forces a continuing engagement with the possibilities of the blobsquatch as evidence. Simultaneously, the discourses around the apparent, the alleged, the fake, the hoax widen to include ever stranger anomalous photographic phenomena which are increasingly divorced from the ‘traditional’ habitats, appearance and meaning of Bigfoot, making it function more obviously like a Rorschach splat than previously.[4]

The cryptozoological community is well aware that this slippage in definition, scope and field is a widespread credibility (credulity) problem in their circles, and indeed to the extent that the grainy/noisy blobsquatch photo could be said to be one of the key cryptozoological clichés. Indeed, one site contributor quips that “we might as well add blobsquatch to our list of Crypto-critters….” under the following description:

Blobsquatch. Height: ? Weight: ?

Description: dark blob

Habitat: possibility any or all photographic documents…

The CZ community evinces mixed reactions to this cliché- many bemoaning or criticizing this tendency as a final judgement on the field. Others, in a more positive move, offer sets of advice, instructions and technical information on how to create better quality, standardized images and documentation. It is on this second reaction that We now focus.

Often as part of these instructions, a list of the ‘Crypto Cliches’ is drawn up to show how obvious indeed things are. Many contain information relating specifically to the types and forms of cryptids (eg Loch Ness or BF clichés), but of interest to us here are the broader visual/media clichés, which in both their presence and nature bespeak both methodologies of hoaxing, and content related to the cultural politic of ‘encountering’, ‘photographing’, and the troubled structures of proof and veracity. Cryptozoological cliches which concern visual indeterminacy include:

– Fuzzy or out of focus pictures

– Only a glance or a few seconds of film

– Situations or conditions preventing pursuit or capture.

– Lost or corrupted ‘Evidence’

– High Zoom, pixelation.

– Arrows/circles used to demarcate a body or trace.

Thus the blobsquatch is situated in a specific spacetime- the photographer was most often unable to chase the cryptid and get more documentation- with the secondary implication being that often the photographic moment is an equally fearful encounter (importantly that is, for both hunter/hunted). The long history of interplay between the tale, the travellers report- from bigfoot as loggers tale, Paul Bunyan story, whitewashed indigeneous stories, to Pliny and the medieval Bestiaries- and scientific rationalization plays out here in the documentary narrative and indeterminancy of the creature. Thus the Blobsquatch could be said to pre-date (predate?) Bigfoot itself, being part of the long history of animal-monster speculation, now concomitant to electronic communication technologies. In this sense, to the empirical branches CZ community, the Blobsquatch has done more harm than good.

Conversely, We believe that the blobsquatch can be seen to have a productive, expansionist role in CZ, turning people’s awareness to the characteristics of these histories, the media, coincidence, forms of info-animisms and  etcetera. The blobsquatch destabilizes the authoritative role accorded empirical-scientific methods and photography, and indeed the role of the body in the sometimes-scientific field of cryptozoology. The blobsquatch summons many of the central tensions within the CZ field, recalling those around modern interpretations of the Medieval Bestiaries- those between animal/spirit (monster, demon), presence/absence, wild/described, rational/paranormal (hysteric, mythinformatic), allegorical/literal,…

Specifically, in that cryptozoology predominantly deploys an uneasy conjoining of the looping, schizoid truth claims and associative research of the anti/para-scientific, paranormal, Fortean and conspiratorial ‘genres’, with the quest for objective empirical evidence (aping scientific-zoological methodologies), by haunting the photographic realm of consumer screenal nature, and blurring the aforementioned categorical divides in ‘the document’ as field, the Blobsquatch gestures toward the side exit (like the P-G Squatch headed stage left…) of cryptozoology’s relationship to scientific method and veracity, fostering new imaginative habitats for the cryptid. (For more on this, see our recent publication “Out of Time, Place, Scale: Cryptozoology and Neo-Colonialism”.)

Remaining for a moment longer in the realm of ‘Blobsquatch Theory’, let Us pose a few interesting questions:

–       How does one bait the Blobsquatch? seed and collect glitch media?

–       What then is the Cryptozoological ‘Field’?

–       What is the ‘expedition’?

–       Will the ubiquitous ownership of portable photographic devices (i.e cell phone video/cameras) ostensibly make the search and capturing of Blobsquatches much easier?[5].

From “Proto-Blobsquatchery” to “Blobsquatch in the Expanded Field”: The Work of Carl Diehl


Hidden Animals Intro from carl diehl on Vimeo.

Critical work on the blobsquatch is rare, limited mainly to disparaging mentions on CZ forums, accusations leveled at new photos from time to time, and defensive responses from makers. The work of Carl Diehl stands out as one of the only Blobsquatch investigations worthy of mention. Taking a slightly different tack than We do here, Diehl’s Blobsquatch theory draws in Casio keyboard fetishes and circuit-bending noise, “Metaphortean Research” and phenomena of malfunction. We have included a number of Diehl’s excellent Blobsquatch video works here: “Blobsuatch in the Expanded Field”, “Proto-Blobsquatchery” and “Hidden Animals”. See Diehls site: http://www.electronicelsewhere.com/ for more. Warning: One must contend with the torpid, dead-pan echo-delay narration.

Carl Diehl “Proto-blobsquatchery”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNj0y7-kpp0

Carl Diehl “Blobsquatch in the Expanded Field” (Parts 1-3 of 3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XXvqI8hFxk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUVGtKQSUEI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy1sLVOGLT8


Endnotes & Video Addenda

The Globster


Gimlin-GlobSquatch?

The following video presents an interesting circling of this- implying that a Blob-Gimilin can be seen in the background of the Patterson-Gimlin film…

CLICK HERE To VIEW

Gimlin-GlobSquatch

——————-

[1] Pareadolia- explanation and link to BF on mars.

[2] Globster: a conflation of monster and glob (‘Glob’ being a combination of Globe and Blob) describes an entertaining sub-genre of aquatic cryptids that form when agglomerations of weed, rubbish, and/or decaying bodies or biological materials wash ashore. The Globster would thus seem to be a physical or ‘body’ blobsquatch- an interpretative field involving physical matter and possible biological forms. The Globster neatly fits Our definition of an accidental instance of ‘Botched Taxidermy’ as discussed in “Out of Time, Place, Scale: Cryptozoology and Neocolonialism”  and promises interesting experimental forays. See video in endnotes below.

[3] See HERE for a deeper investigation on how to analyse a blobsquatch photo.

[4] We have undertaken a comparison of the blobsquatch to Rorschach images/tests elsewhere.

[5] This is indeed a current debate in crypto communities- adherents expressing a simultaneous mix of revulsion and desire around the increasing deployment of consumer imaging technologies- as to whether such devices offer more chances at documentation, more eyes in the field, or the further blurring of the scientific intent of CZ and the proliferation of bad Bluberry Blobsquatches. See HERE for documentation and debate on one of the first cases of an apparent cryptid (The Wiltshire Panther) caught with a cell phone camera:  , and as discussed on CryptoMundo.com

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One Response to “The Blobsquatch Against The Rational: The Abject Romance of Low-Res, Information-Mythologies & Divination in Cryptozoological Media”

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