This topic of conversation comes up often and circles into debate after debate. I’d like to settle it with civility for those who do not understand dark fiction and art.
Dark art is associated with the occult or Satanism thanks to Hollywood…but that’s not a bad thing. Hollywood used dark imagery the same way artists and authors do: to convey an emotion or a complaint, to express dread or fear. In times of repression, dark art was used to express freedom of thought through images when freedom of speech was an unavailable tool.
Delving into shades of black allows artists to play with light in surreal, mysterious ways. They can hide things while illuminating others, and the painters of the era took advantage of this new theory to expose painful experiences of their time, making them contemporary artists.
While the dark art movement can be used as a tool to address modern issues, it can also be used for issues of the macabre like death, or mental illness.
In the Middle Ages, images were used to represent death and punishment for sins to remind everyone of their daily duty. And because most low-born, or common folk, could not read these images would burn the messages in their mind.
The controversy of dark art is that it can provoke, or invoke, feelings from the viewer. Art is subjective. What you see is what you’ve interpreted from the images laid out before you. While the artist’s intent is there, the eyes that behold the scene will interpret and process the scene in their own way. If the scene has religious connotations, the viewer may feel their beliefs are being attacked and decide the message is blasphemous. The beauty of dark art is the freedom and ability to use art as a medium to expose thought, feelings, memories, and experiences with others.
With regards to dark fiction, the same rules apply. Approaching a dark subject matter allows allegory expression of pain, complaint, opinion, repression, fear, and more. Dark fiction feeds off the doubt and fear we have against all things “pure” because it’s a natural way of life. There is a season for everything. A season for living, for dying, for loving, for loss… there is always an equal and opposing reaction. If light is beautiful, then so is darkness. Just as light can be blinding, darkness can take away sight.
We are born from darkness into light, and return to its embrace. Fear is a learned behavior.
So is dark art/fiction considered horror? The short answer is this: horror is considered dark art/fiction but not all dark art/fiction is horror.
While this is not a comprehensive essay on so things “Dark Art/Fiction” I hope it helped give you a starting point to explore without fear.