A cursed image refers to images (usually photographs) that are perceived as mysterious or disturbing due to their content, poor quality, or a combination of the two. A cursed image makes a person ask questions about the image's existence in the first place. Since 2016, such images have become popular online.
The concept of "cursed images" originates from a Tumblr blog, cursedimages, in 2015. The first image posted by the account shows an elderly farmer surrounded by crates of red tomatoes in a wood-paneled room. In a 2019 interview with Paper, the blog's owner described the aforementioned image as follows: "It's the perfect cursed image to me because there's nothing inherently unsettling about any part of it. It's a totally mundane moment transformed into something else by the camera and the new context I've given it."
While the term "cursed image" had been used on Tumblr since 2015, it became more widely popularized by July 2016 due to the Twitter account @cursedimages. In a 2016 interview with Gizmodo writer Hudson Hongo, the owner of the account explained that he had seen "one or two" posts on Tumblr containing "unexplainable and odd" pictures that were simply captioned "cursed image". Intrigued by the pictures, the owner of the account began searching for similar images and after finding more photographs in that vein, decided to "post them all in one place". That same year, Brian Feldman of New York magazine interviewed Doug Battenhausen, the owner of the Tumblr blog internethistory, which also posts "cursed images". Feldman asked Battenhausen about the appeal of "cursed images", to which Battenhausen replied: "It's a lot of things. It's the mystery of the photo, it's the strange aesthetics of them, it's seeing a place that you've never seen before, or an intimate glimpse into somebody's life."
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- Gallucci, Nicole (27 February 2019), "The complex allure of cursed images", Mashable, archived from the original on 7 July 2020, retrieved 28 June 2020
- Tolentino, Jia (23 October 2016). "The Creepiest Pictures on the Internet". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- Moen, Matt (9 December 2019). "Cursed Images: Finding Comfort in Discomfort". Papermag. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- Ellis, Emma Grey (14 June 2019). "Why You Can't Look Away From #CursedImages". Wired. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- Hongo, Hudson (29 August 2016). "Cursed Images Is the Last Twitter Account You See Before You Die". Gizmodo. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
- Feldman, Brian (31 October 2016). "What Makes a Cursed Image?". Intelligencer. New York. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.