Another reason I find surrealism to be so novel, is that it allows us to investigate and analyze the spiritual in art, in a secular way. It solves two problems. It allows a passage way out of the emotional bankruptcy of modernism and materialism. And it offers a materialist and modernist method of utilizing the irrational side of human experience.
“The history of the centuries end will be that of its masks” - Chris Marker
Things I saw last night.
I was passing through Tumblr, dreamside, looking at a lot of pictures Robert De Niro (Really, is there a space?) many of them from a sequel to Taxi Driver where Travis Bickle goes to the moon. Martin Scorsese’s Astronaut?
Who’s he going to kill up there?
Hahahh That should be the tagline.
The thought that I had looking through all these pics was how limited images often are to just faces. Faces and costumes. I think about this as a photographer a lot. What makes an image more? Bergman just gets in closer to the face. How extreme!
The solution in my mind is that a good photo is an impossible photo. A collage within a space where objects can be given an ordered arrangement suggesting they are no longer objects, but thoughts. And an indifference to the subject within that space that gives the subject motion, free will. Yet the subject’s gaze may acknowledge us, because it looks inside us. The objects are inside us. The gaze that breaks the forth wall acts as an inverting lens that projects their environment within us. Their outside is our inside.
Now with such a careful formula, its obvious that’s all bullshit. The things we see in dreams, our fantastic ideas projected as subjects and scenes, are almost always very ordinary. Even if there is a Bronze Ballet charge to the image, giving it power beyond its ordinary-ness, we see a girl near a window rolling an empty glass on a wood floor.
But even that is a dream cliche! Faces and costumes, all of it. Walls, the rest.
Even our ways of suggesting a dream-state in images and movies is often whatever experimental technique we have at our disposal. Who sees a fog? Does anyone dream in black and white? All the watery images in 3 Women spring to mind. But it does translate to us as a dream. If anything, its because the mind is constantly making excuses and shortcuts for the vagueness that it encounters in sleep.
The girl with the glass sits by the window because its backlit glare might explain the empty spaces our brain is too lazy to fill. I meet a stranger in the park, a large flat plane of green grass, because I would never see one of Dali’s deserts in ordinary life (which this is, of course, and not the secretly free world of dreams). When I imagine a singer singing, their hair covers their face and sunglasses cover their eyes (perhaps I have no fashion sense) but it does so because my mind is making its own peculiar adjustments to confusion.
Everything that is amazing about My Bloody Valentine is because every aspect of them is as vague as a dream on video tape slipping past the gates and home to us, forever. (Is it true I can only hear it?)
So the solution, really, will always be the careful discovery of our own idiosyncratic shortcuts around confusion. To be honest and sensitive about them. And be representative of the full range of surreal adjustments to time, objects, spaces, lighting, and the body.
I was watching a video of a Michel Gondry film. It was the original cut of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, called Parallax. Bradford Cox starred in it. I thought to myself, I never give Gondry enough credit. Who cares if he’s a spoiled rich brat? This is a great movie. I feel bad watching it because its not what he intended us to see. The colors are so dark and expressive, like Fantasia. This is actually quite good. What was that other film he made? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless…
The misfits of veristic surrealism: De Chirico, Balthus, Magritte, Delvaux, Wadsworth (even Freud and Hopper); employ an innate grammar of paranoid recognition. First, there is psychologically potent content with little regard to the pretenses of automatic techniques. We are dealing with images of things; things that are irrational but understood. And secondly, maybe most importantly, we see a focus on the intimate experiences of paying attention. Metaphysical painting is about the excitement that comes with simple perception, and its habitual faults.
Within surrealism, there are random juxtapositions that give us nothing but a laugh and others that haunt us without explanation for life.
The superrational mind has own language, laws, and grammar. Our vocabulary to define it at the moment is limited to stone age metaphysical hogwash… but I don’t think it will always be that way.
For the moment, those wishing to pick some kind of science from the realm of magic are left to create an inventory of effects. How the lights fell when the presence was felt. Images of faces turned away. A sequence of objects on the riverbed, just under the surface. Spirit Cinematography.
We are all waiting on the day Oliver Sacks can explain to us what Tarkovsky always knew. Who can articulate such silent things?