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DPChallenge Forums >> Current Challenge >> What is surreal to you?
Showing posts 1 - 25 of 45, (reverse)
03/09/2005 11:21:10 AM · #1
Since many commentors have expressed their feelings many photographs are not meeting the definition, I would like to see specifics on what it is you look for that defines surreal to you. For example: Do the photos require juxtaposition? Does it require elements not usually seen together? What separates abstract from surreal? Also any other comments you feel will enable photographers to get a better handle on your definition of surreal.
03/09/2005 11:23:14 AM · #2
Found this on the web. It works for me.

Types of Surrealism:
There are two types of Surrealism.
1. Illusionistic Surrealism: These works of art are composed of irrational content, absurd juxtapositions and metamorphoses of dreams into a higher illusionary state. Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy and Rene Magritte were Illusionists.
2. Automatist Surrealism: this is directly derived from automatic writing. These pieces express the subconscious through abstraction. These works are created free from conscious associations. Automatists include Joan Miro and Andre Masson.
03/09/2005 11:54:40 AM · #3
kindof like humor and/or porn and/or 'art'
- i knows it when i sees it -

03/09/2005 12:40:54 PM · #4
I want to feel like i'm looking at a snapshot of someone's dream. This could be a normal subject but have a dreamlike quality or twist, Or it could be completely abstract just as long as it doesn't feel like it's placed in complete reality. yeah, that's the ticket. . something that envokes a feeling somewhat removed from reality. . . final answer.
03/09/2005 12:58:36 PM · #5
Surrealim is not so easily defined. Bear in mind that our definitions evolve after the fact. That is, we look at an image and determine what makes it surreal. Some of us merely go and reference the outstanding figures in the field. Most of our definitions are rooted in the classical form. Then this form gives off tangents.

The one thing about surrealism is that it challenges and surprises the mind. The classic form is very heavy adorned with symbols which are presented in novel ways to titillate the subconscious mind. Some present incongruity and some set us off in a dream like state.

The question is how does photography interpret this medium. You can go and reproduce the classical style, but you want to maintain the integrity of your medium. Here is an outake which I did not submit because although it meets the challenge, it spills heavily into digital art. Yes, digital art can be anything, but here at DPC we tend to stick to what loos more like a phorograph than a digital composite, even if is attained in Basic editing.

My point is that defining ant art form is very hard and much beyond my experience. It is easy to say that this is or is not appropiate. No, in photography it will be a different rendition from the painters. It is, in fact a series of schools being shaped as we speak. Anyway this was my original entry.
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03/09/2005 01:12:21 PM · #6
Excellent post, lots to think about, my thanks for the thoughtful reply.
03/09/2005 01:18:16 PM · #7
Originally posted by mhommel:

1. Illusionistic Surrealism: These works of art are composed of irrational content, absurd juxtapositions and metamorphoses of dreams into a higher illusionary state. Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy and Rene Magritte were Illusionists.

Some of the work (photography) of 'Man Ray' comes to mind. He also worked with Dali if I'm not mistaken.
03/09/2005 01:19:20 PM · #8
Photographically, I think of surrealism as an otherwise natural looking image (the realism part), but with some twist, juxtaposition or bizarre aspect that makes it odd or unreal.
03/09/2005 01:35:56 PM · #9
Originally posted by scalvert:

Photographically, I think of surrealism as an otherwise natural looking image (the realism part), but with some twist, juxtaposition or bizarre aspect that makes it odd or unreal.


Very well put. The form must maintain the integrity of the medium as you described it well.
03/09/2005 01:38:42 PM · #10
Originally posted by scalvert:

Photographically, I think of surrealism as an otherwise natural looking image (the realism part), but with some twist, juxtaposition or bizarre aspect that makes it odd or unreal.

makes me think that my white crayon would have done well in this as well
(if i could have ... )
03/09/2005 01:43:39 PM · #11
Originally posted by ralphnev:

...my white crayon would have done well in this as well

Yes, it could have. The concept is great, but the setup may be too simple to ribbon. It might be a little better if the crayon drew in a bright color like purple, or the context offered something else to boost the appeal factor.
03/09/2005 02:04:41 PM · #12
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4 pics i digged up from my 1-yr old archive wich i think somehow meets surrealisme
03/09/2005 02:11:35 PM · #13
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03/09/2005 02:50:48 PM · #14
Just breifly browsed some of the entries this morning. Quite a few looked more like abstract rather than surreal. But I'll have to spend more time with them.
03/09/2005 03:01:47 PM · #15
When I think of surrealism, the best way that I can think of what comes to mind is 'fascinating absurdity.' That doesn't even really pinpoint it; it's a hard concept to put to words. As far as visual absurdity, Salvador Dali and some of Escher's pieces come to mind first and foremost. Oftentimes I imagine arbitrary objects (often mis-sized, unporportionate, and at times in an untrue consistancy) in some enviornment besides their own--floppy eggbeaters flying through the desert with giant crickets swarming all over them. You know that nursery rhyme that goes:

Hey diddle, diddle,
The cat played the fiddle
And the Cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such a sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

That's surreal.

I almost think of the song 'American Pie' (Don McLain) as surreal, if objects can symbolize things as surreal--can they? 'Bohemian Rasphody' (Queen) kinda fits the category as well, sort of.

To some extent, so do some Anti-Utopian novels (in some aspects).

Anyway, there's my take of it and a few examples thereof. Of course, I'd like to hear from someone who's actually formally studied the definition (take my word with a grain of salt--I'm just a kid!).

03/09/2005 03:08:40 PM · #16
have you seen the new Beck video?

it's pretty whacked...

kind of like my dreams most of the time.
03/09/2005 03:57:06 PM · #17
For me surrealism is visualizing something that could be real, but is not.
The "could be real" has many different ways to explain.
It can be some kind of a common beliefe or an urban legend. It can be a metaphoric expression of some sort. Or it can be just an exaggerated reality.
As for the visualizing, it doesn't have to be very clear or blunt. Sometimes I have to stare for some time at the photo (or painting or wathever art work) to see the unreal part of it. And sometimes I see it right away. but it always raises too many thoughts and feelings and emotions to deal with at just one look.

By the way, a wonderful surreal movie I have recently seen was The Ladykillers by the Coen brothers, with Tom Hanks in the lead roll. Mostly recommended!!!
03/09/2005 04:35:46 PM · #18
Somehow when I see surreal for a photograph - I want to depict a few things.
1) I want to see an image that just can't be real
2) It has to be dream like (you know the dreams - the ones that make perfect sence while it's happening but when you realize what it is you say - What the fudge....!)
3) Since we are all photographers (all at different levels) - I want to think - How in the world did they make this shot - can't be done

That is why l really liked this challenge to be a basic editing challenge... you can really learn a lot of really cool ideas - and there are a few pictures I am just dying to find out how they were done!

03/09/2005 04:37:56 PM · #19

Here look:
Juxtaposition - the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side; also : the state of being so placed

Thus...the above definition in an unnatural and subconscious dreamlike state.

What would be an example of this? Well, a clock in the middle of the ocean with a hammer right next to it. A giant lizard with an orange in its mouth sitting on top of a book. A building made out of cheese being eaten by a dog that has a tree stump for a leg. A hat worn by a candle. A sheet of paper laying next to a car that is being driven by a chair. The virgin Mary holding an airplane in one hand and a broken egg in the other. Etc.

When people submitted for this challenge, there were a lot of dreamlike landscapes. Surrealism is the "subconscious" dreamlike. Like when you had that dream once where you were being chased by a snake, and you looked down and you were the snake. Then you turn around and you’re holding a tiny fork, but somehow you know that the fork is the snake. That is surreal. That is what was supposed to be captured.

Very few people got it. Very few.
03/09/2005 04:46:46 PM · #20
The surreal art I have most appreciated had some point to be made, such as Magritte's smoke from a steam engine flowing back into a fake fireplace from which the steam engine was emerging, or his "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" which was a totally realistic painting of a pipe.

However, my understanding of the surreal is broader. I understand its origin to have coincided with Freud's view of the mind which contrasts a logical conscious with an illogical unconscious. The greater reality of the latter was what the surrealists sought to express in their art.

Thus they looked for direction, not to normal logic, but rather to the produce of their unconscious aesthetics, desires and fears. They believed logic limited life experience and were on a political mission to upset the logical mind.

I ask when looking at a piece of art: Does this upset my logical view of how things are and does it bring me closer to my emotional aesthetics, desires, and fears? Does it cause me to rethink those things about which I am most certain or to think about things I have never considered as such would be too illogical? Does it present a view of reality unrestrained by logic or convention? Does it shake my logical grasp of how things work and how they should be? If I get a couple of yeses then I know that some of the surrealist artists would have considered that piece of art surrealistic.

03/09/2005 04:55:21 PM · #21
ah... that definition gets a 10..thanks
03/09/2005 04:55:27 PM · #22
Very few people got it. Very few.

I agree I saw a lot of Serene images but not Surreal. Another Justaposition
that fits is the real next to the unreal. Trees are real, warped melted clocks
are not. Granted there's a lot more to Dali than I have stated there.
03/09/2005 05:17:11 PM · #23
You guys are doing a good job on this thread. I'll sit it out and rest my pontificator for another topic. Clap Clap! Definite shortage of the "truly" surreal in this challenge. Lots of strange stuff though. And of course, a fair sprinkling of very nice, definitely surreal, images.

03/09/2005 05:24:40 PM · #24
I've looked around a bit and found these photos, all of which, to me, have a strong surreality about them. I've also included some of my own, at the tail end of it:

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03/09/2005 05:26:20 PM · #25
When I think of surrial i think of soemthing "not possible", for example the paintings of Salvador Dali
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