ART IS MURDER · How-To Guides

The Surrealist Cookbook: recipes 1 through 4

Surrealist Cookbook

recipe 1: building from the aleotory

Austin Spare did it. William S. Burroughs did it. Plenty of others have done it as well. The idea is simple. Use an aleotory process to create raw material. Select from that material. Use your selections to consciously build your final product. In the case of Spare, he used automatic drawing to create the original substrate of a picture. Once this was created he returned to it, consciously, and drew in details. The results were often both beautiful and bizarre.

Burroughs went the same way, but using his cut-up techniques. Colliding two texts results in chance word combinations. From these he developed new texts, often using interesting combinations as inspiration for writing, not often using the raw, chance combinations as the new text itself.

Yourself, you can do this. Use any aleotory process to get your basic starting material. Look at what chance has given you. Use that to come up with something entirely new.

recipe 2: the found

Found poetry, and visual art, is often seen as quirky, or gimmicky. But the smart surrealist can use the technique of “finding” to produce truly sublime results. The key is to be aware. To notice, and to notice in increasing detail. Consider the Japanese veneration of cracked tea cups and decaying buildings. Seeing beauty in what nature does to man’s creations is a form of found art. But we can go far beyond this. Look around your world at what is unnoticed. What is unappreciated. What among these things do you respond to? Do you see anything in the details of the world that speaks to you in low, but profound, whispers?

Find these things and present them in a way that exhibits the qualities you see in them. Frame the found as art. Or apply minor adjustments to purify the qualities you want to highlight. You are the lense that puts focus on the found. Use your imagination, and the power of your conscious mind, to turn the found from an unseen thing into something that exhibits the subtle for everyone to understand.

recipe 3: walk the liminal lines

Have you ever told a joke that everyone took seriously? Have you ever been serious about something, but ended up getting only laughter?

Do this on purpose. Create things that are neither this nor that, but still entirely both. Attempt to push and pull at the same time. Delight and horrify. Lull and excite. Motivate in depressing ways. Create narcotizing anxiety. Bring together opposites. Tell stories of unchanging worlds. Freeze things until they explode. Record the forgotten. Remind us all of that which never happened.

Break the world so that the weeds may grow through.

recipe 4: unframe the infrastructure

For many years it was believed that anything that was framed could be art. And this was true for as long as it lasted. What few people talk about now is how art inhabits the unframed. That which is not presented for observation sits in our peripheral vision, doing everything that art is meant to do.

Go around now and disassemble the world. Take apart all of the frames. For what is framed is no longer art but commerce. The television commercial–and in this era, the social media ad–is our final art form. We have exhaled completely. This is the pause. And now we begin to inhale. As we go back the way we came, we must find all of the frames and take them apart. If it is presented for our viewing pleasure, then it is a target of our unframing. Find a way to dissolve the borders so that the venerated may bleed back into the world from which it is separated.

This is not vandalism. This is turning ourselves in the new direction. Art lives beyond the frames. Take down frames so that all the world may become art.

Reality Is Fake 05.13.2017



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