Archive for Surrealism and Paris

Walter Benjamin on Surrealism and Photography

Posted in Art History/Theory, Critical theory, Photography, Reading notes, Surrealism with tags , , , on September 27, 2010 by melaniemenardarts

Surrealism The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia (1929)

“Life only seemed worth living where the threshold between waking and sleeping was worn away in everyone as by the steps of multitudinous images flooding back and forth, language only seemed itself where, sound and image, image and sound interpenetrated with automatic precision and such felicity that no chink was left for the penny-in-the-slot called “meaning”.”

“In the world’s structure dream loosens individuality like a bad tooth. This I loosening of the self by intoxication is, at the same time, precisely the fruitful, living experience that allowed these people to step outside the domain of intoxication.”

“ But the true creative overcoming of religious illumination certainly does not lie in narcotics. It resides in a profane illumination,  a materialistic, anthropological inspiration.”

“ perceive the revolutionary energies that appear in the “outmoded”, in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects .that have  begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them. […] No one before these visionaries and augurs perceived how destitution—not only social but architectonic, the poverty of interiors/enslaved and enslaving  objects- can be suddenly transformed into revolutionary nihilism.”

“convert everything that we have experienced on mournful railway journeys (railways are beginning to age), on Godforsaken Sunday afternoons in the proletarian quarters of the great cities, in the first glance through the rain-blurred window of a new apartment, into revolutionary experience, if not action. They bring the immense forces of “atmosphere” concealed in these things to the point of explosion.”

“And no face is surrealistic in the same  degree as the true face of a city. No picture by de Chirico or Max Ernst can match the sharp elevations of the city’s inner strong-holds, which one must overrun and occupy in order to master their fate and, in their fate, in the fate of their masses, one’s own.”

“The Surrealists’ Paris, too, is a “little universe”. That is to say, in the larger one, the cosmos, things look no different. There, too, are crossroads where ghostly signals flash from the traffic, and inconceivable analogies and connections between events are the order of the day. It is the region from which the lyric poetry of Surrealism reports.”

“ the deeply grounded composition of an individual who, from inner compulsion, portrays less a historical evolution than a constantly renewed, primal upsurge of esoteric poetry”

“ the philosophical realism of the Middle Ages was the basis of poetic experience. This realism, however—that is, the belief in a real, separate existence of concepts whether outside or inside things—has always very quickly crossed over from the logical realm of ideas to the magical realm of words. And it is as magical experiments with words, not as artistic dabbling, that we must understand the passionate phonetic and graphical transformational games that have run through the whole literature of the avant-garde”

Apollinaire, L’esprit nouveau et les poetes:
“ their synthetic works create new realities the plastic manifestations of which are just as complex as those referred to by the words standing for collectives”
about Dostoyevsky:
“No one else understood, as he did, how naive is the view of the Philistines that goodness, for all the manly virtue of those who practise it, is God-inspired; whereas evil stems entirely from our spontaneity, and in it we are independent and self-sufficient beings.”
I think the Surrealists moved away from this preoccupation and it’s rather George Bataille that continued to pursue this idea ?

“ we penetrate the mystery only to the degree that we recognize it in the everyday world, by virtue of a dialectical optic that perceives the everyday as impenetrable, the impenetrable as everyday […] The reader, the thinker, the loiterer, the flaneur, are types of illuminati just as much as the opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. And more profane. Not to mention that most terrible drug—ourselves—which we take in solitude.”

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935)

“Works of art are received and valued on different planes. Two polar types stand out; with one, the accent is on the cult value; with the other, on the exhibition value of the work. Artistic production begins with ceremonial objects destined to serve in a cult. One may assume that what mattered was their existence, not their being on view. […] With the different methods of technical reproduction of a work of art, its fitness for exhibition increased to such an extent that the quantitative shift between its two poles turned into a qualitative transformation of its nature. This is comparable to the situation of the work of art in prehistoric times when, by the absolute emphasis on its cult value, it was, first and foremost, an instrument of magic. Only later did it come to be recognized as a work of art. In the same way today, by the absolute emphasis on its exhibition value the work of art becomes a creation with entirely new functions, among which the one we are conscious of, the artistic function, later may be recognized as incidental. This much is certain: today photography and the film are the most serviceable exemplifications of this new function.”

“The cult of remembrance of loved ones, absent or dead, offers a last refuse for the cult value of the picture. For the last time the aura emanates from the early photographs in the fleeting expression of a human face. This is what constitutes their melancholy, incomparable beauty. But as man withdraws from the photographic image, the exhibition value for the first time shows its superiority to the ritual value. To have pinpointed this new stage constitutes the incomparable significance of Atget, who, around 1900, took photographs of deserted Paris streets. It has quite justly been said of him that he photographed them like scenes of crime. The scene of a crime,
too, is deserted; it is photographed for the purpose of establishing evidence. With Atget, photographs become standard evidence for historical occurrences, and acquire a hidden political significance. They demand a specific kind of approach; free-floating contemplation is not appropriate to them. They stir the viewer; he feels challenged by them in a new way. At the same time picture magazines begin to put up signposts for him, right ones or wrong ones, no matter. For the first time, captions have become obligatory. And it is clear that they have an altogether different character than the title of a painting. The directives which the captions give to those looking at pictures in illustrated magazines soon become even more explicit and more imperative in the film where the meaning of each single picture appears to be prescribed by the sequence of all preceding ones.”

Severin-Mars:
“What art has been granted a dream more poetical and more real at the same time! Approached in this fashion the film might represent an incomparable means of expression.”

Werfel:
“The film has not yet realized its true meaning, its real possibilities. . . these consist in
its unique faculty to express by natural means and with incomparable persuasiveness all that is fairylike, marvelous, supernatural.”

“art has left the realm of the “beautiful semblance” which, so far, had been taken to be the only sphere where art could thrive”

“the representation of reality by the film is incomparably more significant than that of the painter, since it offers, precisely because of the thoroughgoing permeation of reality with mechanical equipment, an aspect of reality which is free of all equipment. And that is what one is entitled to ask from a work of art.”

“The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion”

“The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.”

“this is at bottom the same ancient lament that the masses seek distraction
whereas art demands concentration from the spectator. […] Distraction and concentration form polar opposites which may be stated as follows: A man who
concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. He enters into this work of an the way legend tells of the Chinese painter when he viewed his finished painting. In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art.”

A small History of Photography

“The most precise technology can give its product a magical value, such as a painted picture can never have for us. No matter how artful the photographer, no matter how carefully posed his subject, the beholder feels an irresistible urge to search such a picture for the tiny spark of contingency, of the Here and Now, with which reality has so to speak seared the subject, to find the inconspicuous spot where in the immediacy of that long forgotten moment the future subsists so eloquently that we, looking back, may rediscover it. For it is another nature that speaks to the camera than to the eye: other in the sense that a space informed by human consciousness gives way to a space informed by the unconscious.”

“optical unconscious”

“photography reveals in this material the physionimic aspects of visual worlds which dwell in the smallest things, meaningful yet covert enough to find a hiding place in waking dreams, but which, enlarged and capable of formulation, make the difference between technology and magic.”

“Atget was an actor who, disgusted with the profession, wiped off the mask and set about removing the make-up from reality too. […] He looked for what was unremarked, forgotten, cast adrift, and thus such pictures too work against the exotic, romantically sonorous names of the cities; they pump the aura out of reality like water from a sinking ship. What is aura, actually? A strange weave of space and time: the unique appearance or semblance of distance, no matter how close the object may be. […] The stripping bare of the object, the destruction of the aura, is the mark of a perception whose sense of the sameness of things has grown to the point where even the singular, the unique, is divested of its uniqueness – by means of its reproduction.”

“ a salutory estrangement between man and his surroundings”

“The camera is […] ever readier to capture fleeting and secret moments whose images paralyse the associative mechanisms in the beholder.”

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Surrealism, Photography, Cinema

Posted in Art History/Theory, Artists that inspire me, Cinema, Photography, Reading notes, Surrealism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by melaniemenardarts

Notes from “Explosante fixe”, Exhibition Catalogue at Centre Pompidou

Some notes are in French, I do not fully translate everything, only the most important bits. I’ll translate later what will actually be used in the essay.

André Breton, L’entrée des mediums (1922)
Definition of Surrealism
“un certain automatisme psychique qui correspond assez bien à l’état de rêve, état qu’il est aujourd’hui fort difficile de délimiter.”

Breton “hasard objectif”

George Bataille “L’informe” “Bassesse”-> chûte

Salvador Dali
“Photographie, pure création de l’esprit” (1927)
in Dawn Ades, “Salvador Dali”, Thames and Hudson 1982
“Ils trouvent vulgaire et normal tout ce qu’ils ont l’habitude de voir tous les jours, si merveilleux et miraculeux que ce soit”

Dali, “Film Art, Fil Antiartistico”, Gazeta Literacia (1927), in Dawn Ades
“Le monde du cinema et de la peinture sont très différents: les possibilités de la photographie et du cinéma résident precisement dans cet imaginaire illimité qui nait des choses elles-mêmes. Un morceau de sucre sur l’écran peut devenir plus grand que la perspective infinie d’édifices gigantesques.”

Dali, “Psychologie non euclidienne d’une photographie”, Minotaure 7.
“La donnée photographique est toujours et essentiellement le plus sûr moyen d’expression poétique et le procédé le plus agile pour saisir les plus délicates osmoses qui existent entre la réalité et la surréalité. Le simple fait de la transposition photographique implique une invention totale: la capture d’une réalité secrète.”

Salvador Dali – Realité Secrète
The image reflects reality but forces people to see the world without prejudice/preconception. Therefore the representation of the world presented by the image (i.e. By Art) is truer than the world directly gazed at.
-> the reflection of the world in the mirror (=Art) is truer than the direct image.
-> Alice Through the looking glass

Benjamin Péret, Minotaure 12-13
“Ruine des ruines”

Dawn ades, “La photographie et le texte surréaliste” in Explosante fixe
“ces visions litteraires ou photographiques de produits de la civilisation engloutis par une nature triomphante et vorace traduisent symboliquement l’opposition des surréalistes à leur propre culture. Et celà, chose curieuse, se situe dans le prolongement du culte romantique de la nature, propre à l’esthétique de la fin du 18ème siècle, qui prend le parti de l’état sauvage contre la domestiqué, et celui de la nature contre la civilisation.”

Notes from La subversion des images: Surréalisme, Photographie, Film, Exhibition Catalogue at Centre Pompidou

I saw this show in December 2009.

Les images du dehors, Michel Poivert

“definition de la photographie comme empreinte”
“une odieuse laideur dont le pouvoir de fascination révèle la jouissance inavouable que procure le mauvais gout” George Bataille

Un photogramme, à l’instar d’une photographie documentaire, exemplifie une relation interiorisée au monde

Le fantastique moderne, Quentin Bajac

techniques d’enregistrement indicielles

Louis Aragon
“ne conçoit pas de merveilleux en dehors du réel”
“un fantastique, un merveilleux moderne autrement riche et divers”
“La réalité est l’absence apparente de contradiction. Le merveilleux, c’est la contradiction qui apparait dans le réel. Le fantastique, l’au delà, le rêve, la survie, le paradis, l’enfer, la poésie, autant de mots pour signifier le concret” La révolution surréaliste 3
“sentiment du merveilleux quotidien”

About Eugène Atget, self taught photographer of Paris whom the Surrealist admired:
Waldemar George: « un quart de siècle avant Aragon, il a écrit Le Paysan de Paris en sondant, en dépouillant de sa gangue et en mettant à nu cet immanent mystère qui a pour nom: banalité. »
Albert Valentin: « tout à l’air de se passer au delà, dans la marge, dans le filigrane, dans l’esprit »
« une même poésie spectrale et populaire de la ville. Eloignés des utopies modernistes urbaines contemporaines, ils prennent leur source dans un Paris où seuls les lieux banals et surannés peuvent faire surgir un merveilleux moderne. »
« une nouvelle mythologie moderne urbaine dont les clichés d’Atget, dans leur brutalité primitive, fourniraient une des clefs d’accès. »
« autant de contenus manifestes, d’apparences trompeuses qu’il convient de déchiffrer »
« mettre au jour un contenu latent, souvent chargé de mystère et de percer littéralement l’ombre, lieu de tous les fantasmes »

Below some pictures by Atget:

Atget - Hell Mouth

Atget - librairie

atget - vitrine

atget - mannequins

atget - stairs

atget - appartment

atget - cabaret

atget - foggy street

atget - stairs

atget - cabaret

Dali, « Le témoignage photographique »
« la nature intrinsèquement fantastique du médium photographique »

Pierre Mac Orlan, « Masquer sur mesure », 1928
« révélateur d’une puissance merceilleuse »

About the photographs illustrating André Breton’s Nadja:
« hallucinations simples »

André Breton about night in « Les vases Communicants »:
« la grande nuit qui sait ne faire qu’un de l’ordure et la merveille »
This may refer to Brassai’s photographs of Paris by night.

Below some photographs by Brassaï:

brassai - foggy paris

brassai - gutter

brassai - house

brassai - foggy

brassai - broken windows

brassai - marechal ney

Random quotations:

Henri Cartier Bresson p152:
« laisser l’objectif photographique fouiller dans les gravats de l’inconscient et du hasard »

Dali, « Mes toiles au salon d’automne », 1927 p219
voir le monde « d’une manière spirituelle, dans sa plus grande réalité objective »

Freud:
Schaulust = pulsion scopique p220

André Breton, « Le Surréalisme et la peinture » p274
« L’oeil existe à l’état sauvage » = the eye exists in a savage state (he means that people see things instinctively, the sense of sight does not need to be educated, tamed.)

about strange perspectives in Dora Maar’s collages p275:
« les décors sont sombres et composés de perspectives dépravées: une fenêtre disparaît derrière une colonne pour ne jamais reparaître; un couloir penche vers la gauche jusqu’à se tordre; une voûte s’avère à la fois concave et convexe selon le point de vue qu’on adopte. Ainsi les personnages chimériques ont-ils l’air d’errer dans des espaces qui, par leur contiguïté et leur hétérogénéité, ne peuvent qu’être mentaux. »

Warped spaces in Dora Maar collages:

dora maar

dora maar

dora maar

dora maar

Original Surrealist published material, reprinted

Louis Aragon, « Du décor », 1918, p417
« Doter d’une valeur poétique ce qui n’en possédait pas encore »

Robert Desnos, « Puissance des fantômes », 1928, p418: a poetic ode to cinema and the power of imagination
« Nés pour nous, par la grâce de la lumière et du celluloïd, des fantômes autoritaires s’assoient à notre côté, dans la nuit des salles de cinéma »
« le cinéma ne saurait être que le domaine du fantastique. En vain le réalisme croit-il régner sur les films ».
« Le merveilleux se manifeste où il veut et, quand il veut, il paraît au cinéma à l’insu peut être de ceux qui l’introduisent. »

« Heureux l’homme soumis à ses fantômes. Certes, il connaîtra des nuits désertes, d’inexplicables nostalgies, des mélancolies infinies, le désir sans raison, le spleen, l’implacable spleen. Mais il remettra la terre à sa place parmi les astres et l’homme parmi les créatures. Jamais l’or ne le détournera de son chemin. Jamais un boulet d’esclave n’entravera sa marche. Mieux, tout ce qu’il désirera, il l’obtiendra par la magie même de son imagination et les visites mystérieuses charmeront sa solitude. Libre, il agira librement en toute chose et sorti du dédale terrible de ses rêves, est-il quelque chose sur terre qui pourrait l’épouvanter? […] Initié au fantastique par la seule puissance de la surprise, son esprit connaîtra bientôt la sérénité, née du conflit de son orgueil et de son inquiétude. »

I translate this particular bit because it is very poetic and I like it:
« Fortunate is the man who submits to his ghosts. Sure, he will be prey to deserted nights, unexplainable nostalgies, infinite melancholies, mindless desire and spleen, the merciless spleen. But he will put the Earth back in its place among the stars, and man among the creatures. Never will gold sway him from his path. Never will he be hindered by a slave’s ball and chain. Better, all that he may desire, he will get it by the mere magic of his imagination, and mysterious visits will charm his solitude. Free, he will act freely in all things and, out of the terrible labyrinth of his dreams, is there anything on Earth that could terrify him? […] Initiated into the Fantastic by the mere power of surprise, his mind will soon know serenity, born out of the conflict of his pride and anxiety. »

Note: « ghost » = « fantôme » in French = « fantasma » in Italian (learnt from watching too many Dario Argento subtitled movies 🙂 and also spanish
« Fantasme » in French = « a fantasy » in English
« Fortunate is the man who submits to his ghosts. » I’m wondering whether there is some kind of pun here about fantôme (ghost) -> fantasma → fantasme → « Fortunate is the man who submits to his fantasies. » May be worth looking into the latin root of « fantasme » and « fantôme »

Antonin Artaud, « Sorcellerie et cinéma », 1927, p419
« cette espèce de griserie physique que communique directement au cerveau la rotation des images »
« cette sorte de puissance virtuelle des images va chercher dans le fond de l’esprit des possibilités à ce jour inutilisées.  Le cinéma est essentiellement révélateur de toute une vie occulte avec laquelle il nous met directement en relation. Mais cette vie occulte, il faut savoir la deviner. »
« le cinéma […] dégage un peu de cette atmosphère de transe éminement favorable à certaines révélations. »
« un certain domaine profond tend à affleurer à la surface »

« Le cinéma me semble surtout fait pour exprimer les choses de la pensée, l’intérieur de la conscience, et pas tellement par le jeu des images que par quelque chose de plus impondérable qui nous les restitue avec leur nature directe, sans interpositions, sans representations. Le cinéma arrive à un tournant de la pensée humaine, à ce moment précis où le langage usé perd son pouvoir de symbole, où l’esprit est las du jeu des representations. La pensée claire ne nous suffit pas. Elle situe un monde usé jusqu’à l’écoeurement. Ce qui est clair est ce qui est immédiatement accessible, mais l’immédiatement accessible est ce qui sert d’écorce à la vie. Cette vie trop connue et qui a perdu tous ses symboles, on commence à s’apercevoir qu’elle n’est pas toute la vie. »

I translate this bit because it is crucial:
« To me, cinema seems to be made to express thoughts, the inside of the consciousness, and not so much through the play of images than through something more fleeting that communicates them to us with their direct nature, without interpositions, without representations. Cinema was discovered at a turning point of human thought, at this very moment when overused language has lost all of its symbolic power, when the mind is weary of the game of representations. Clear thought is not enough. It paints a word overused to nausea. What is clear is what is immediately accessible, but what is immediately accessible is nothing but the mere surface of life. This life that we know too well, that has lost all its symbols, we start to realise that it is not the whole of life. »

Benjamin Fondane « Du muet au parlant: grandeur et décadence du cinéma » 1930
« un nouveau moyen d’expression qui non seulement remplacerait la parole mais la mettrait en échec, soulignerait son creux; exiger d’autre part du spectateur une sorte de collaboration, ce minimum de sommeil, d’engourdissement nécessaire, pour que fût balayé le décor du signe et que prît forme à sa place le réel du rêve.
Que le spectateur perdit pied, c’est tout ce que le cinéma voulait. »

Albert Valentin « Eugène Atget, 1856-1927 » 1928
« tout a l’air de se passer au-delà »
« Le reste est au-delà, vous dis-je, dans la marge, dans le filigrane, dans l’esprit, à la portée du moins perspicace ».

Brassaï « Images latentes » 1932
juste cette expression « images latentes »

Dali « le témoignage photographique » 1929
« essentiellement le véhicule le plus sûr de la poésie »
« percevoir les plus délicates osmoses qui s’établissent entre la réalité et la surréalité »
« l’enregistrement d’une réalité inédite »

Raoul Ubac « L’envers de la face » 1942
« Une image, et surtout une image photographique, ne donne du réel qu’un instant de son apparence. Derrière cette mince pellicule qui moule un aspect des choses, à l’intérieur de cette image il en existe à l’état latent une autre, ou plusieurs autres superposées dans le temps et que des opérations le plus souvent dues au hasard décèlent brusquement. »

Jean Goudal « Surréalisme et cinéma » 1925
« Au cinéma comme dans le rêve, le fait règne en maître absolu. L’abstraction perd ses droits. Aucune explication ne vient légitimer les gestes des héros. Les actes succèdent aux actes, portent en eux mêmes leur justification. Et ils se succèdent avec une telle rapidité que nous avons à peine le temps d’évoquer le commentaire logique qui pourrait les expliquer, ou tout au moins les relier. »
« hallucination consciente »
« cette fusion du rêve et de l’état conscient »
« ces images mouvantes nous hallucinent, mais en nous laissant une conscience confuse de notre personnalité et en nous permettant d’évoquer, si c’est nécessaire, les disponibilités de notre mémoire. »
« Dans le langage, la donnée première est toujours la trame logique. L’image naît à propos de cette trame et s’y ajoute pour l’orner, pour l’éclairer. Au cinéma, la donnée première est l’image, qui, à l’occasion, et point nécessairement, entraîne à sa suite des lambeaux rationnels. »

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.

************************************************************************

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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