Archive for Métaphysique des lieux

Project Proposal draft 1

Posted in Project Proposal, Surrealism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2009 by melaniemenardarts

I am writing the first draft of the project proposal for tomorrow’s chat and will update the “latest draft” page, as well as in this post so a record of successive drafts is kept.

Two interesting research discoveries (need more research in books, as little about it online):

– the surrealist concept of “Métaphysique des lieux” (Metaphysics of places). Apparently originating from Louis Aragon’s novel “Le Paysan de Paris” (The Paris Peasant). It is the reinterpretation of space using imagination. From various critics, the novel highlights the Surrealists’ ambivalence towards the city, an attitude that distinguish them from other modernist movements such as Futurism or Constructivism who worshipped everything modern (cities and technology). It seems there are more complex things to be dug up than the “love for Paris” one usually reads about in introductions to Surrealism. It is definitely a concept I need to research as it relates to my interest in exploring backward and rural places. I only have second hand comments about the book, so cannot write much about it yet. “Paris Peasant” seems to be the key text about ambivalence towards cities, and possibly some bits from Breton’s “Nadja” in a lesser measure.

– In 1930, André Breton and Paul Eluard wrote a collaborative poem “L’immaculée Conception” (Immaculate Conception). They had studied various psychiatric textbooks and real writings from mentally ill people, and attempted to put themselves in a state of “simulated madness” before using automatic writing to produce texts similar to the ones written by real patients. They wrote a couple of texts simulating various mental conditions. The goal of the experiment was to prove the line was very thin between the “normal” and “insane” mind, and the possibility of madness was present in any mind. I feel this experiment relates to my two installation ideas: the “autistic box” simulating the experience of a self-sufficient inner world, and the installation simulating the feeling of being lost in order to create disquiet in the viewer.

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I was not yet able to write a proper proposal. I need to read more things in order to have a clearer idea. What I’ve done is reread everything I’ve written in this blog (and on random notes), isolate what I think are the most importance concepts, and sort them in order to fill the different sections of the project proposal. I did not try to write an organised text at this point. I was not able to find anything for paralell theory, and did not write anything for methodology. I think I am not sure what should be in methodology: it seemed like a mix of “generative theory” and outcome to me.

Working title

Outer space/inner worlds : borders, invasions, warfare tactics.

Aims (1 or 2) + objectives (6)

Research the way our subconscious reinvents reality and our surroundings. the various dynamics between the outer world and the individual’s inner worlds.
– the subjective perception of things around us. using photography and video, media ironically considered documentary and objective
– the surrealists said cinema was like dream made physical. explore the possibilities of video to make dreams/inner worlds (mine or from imagined characters) “real” and share them with others. Especially immersive video installations can create more “real” feelings than just video on a screen. explore than as way to engage in a deeper level of communication with the audience.
– how private space is a physical projection of the occupier’s inner world (both liberating and oppressing projections)
– the house and more generally private space and its importance for the intellectual freedom of individuals
– as a consequence, tactics of controlling individuals’minds by manipulating the private space available to them. madness/sanity border questioned from an “external” viewpoint: i.e. undesirable but “sane” people locked up to get rid of them (political illness)
– coping tactics developed by individuals in response to that. madness/sanity border question from a more internal viewpoint: i.e. alienation slowly becoming madness, where exactly is the border ? “mental escape” (fugues) to avoid unpleasant things.

Context

Historical

Above all Surrealism and its aim to reconcile the accepted reality with the individual’s imagination, in order to reach a superior reality, encompassing more levels of perception
especially: dreamscape paintings, wandering and metaphysics of space, simulation of madness.
19th century visionaries such as Blake
Dada and its critic of the absurdity of modern life
German expressionist cinema, and its interest in madness
“Antipsychiatry” philosophers
Urban exploration and psychogeography within situationnism and beyond
Cinema exploring consciousness (Lynch, Bergman, Polanski etc …)

Contemporary

Contemporary art aiming to reclaim public space, it is usually performance art. For example: it is forbidden to take photographs in malls, and some outdoor city centre streets are sold for private use because they mostly contain shops. Simon Pulter’s projections on the Houses of Parliaments and the white cube gallery.
Modern psychogeographers such as Iain Sinclair.
David Lynch

Critical theory

The surrealist concern of Art not being made exclusively for the cultural elite to discuss it between themselves, but open to everyone. This has nothing to do with paternalist attitude of making “simple” art (such as social realism) , but making Art that is open to be enjoyed on different levels. The key to that is that Art refers to “Life” (Ado Kyrou against the “Auteur” cinema) not just previously made art, so that a person without cultural reference can enjoy the piece relating to their life experience. Obviously, because previously made art is a very important part of an artist’s own life, the piece will be influenced by various art references. This is OK as long as it is just an innocent reflection of the artist’s love for previous art, not a way of “testing” the cultural knowledge of the audience.

The same way, politics are part of life, so most artworks will have some political connotations to them. If the artist is concerned with a political issue, they will naturally express it in their Art. But a piece should not be made solely to advertise a political idea. Art is not propaganda or advertising. Art should engage the audience into thinking for themselves, not tell them what to think.

Parallel theory
Maybe contemporary, much more moderate versions of antipsychiatry sush as the people who criticise the hegemony of cognitive behavioural therapy in contemporary mental health systems ?

Generative Theory

Automatism:
-unstaged compositions
-used of pictures seen in dreams/visions without attempting to find out what they “mean” and without modifying them artificially in order to make them fit a “model”.

Methodology

collect photographs and footage from derelict places, and more generally strange places (Freud’s the uncanny)
1) for some pieces, these collected images (after processing and editing) are the artwork in itself
2) for other pieces, they cause an idea association in me and I need to create “artificial images” (from scratch) to make a physical representation, and edit them in
3) for other pieces I have an inner vision (i.e. dream) and I’m aiming to make it real. so I either go out and find real things that fit it, ot if they don’t exist, I create images from scratch
maybe it is 1) the outside invading the inside 3) the inside invading the outside 2) the time/place where they clash, where the border is. I’m not sure about this yet

Outcome

Photographs
Videos
Immersive video installations.

Work plan

?

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