- Surrealist automatism
Automatismhas taken on many forms: the automatic writingand drawing initially (and still to this day) practiced by surrealists can be compared to similar, or perhaps parallel phenomena, such as the non-idiomatic improvisation of free jazz[http://www.autonomedia.org/surrealistsubversions/review.html] .
Surrealist automatism is different from
mediumistic automatism, from which the term was inspired. Ghosts, spirits or the like are not purported to be the source of surrealist automatic messages.
"Pure psychic automatism" was how
André Bretondefined surrealism, and while the definition has proved capable of significant expansion, automatism remains of prime importance in the movement.
In 1919 Breton and
Philippe Soupaultwrote the first automatic book, " Les Champs Magnétiques", while " The Automatic Message" (1933) was one of Breton's significant theoretical works about automatism.
Some Romanian surrealists invented a number of
surrealist techniques(such as cubomania, entoptic graphomania, and the movement of liquid down a vertical surface) that purported to take automatism to an absurd point, and the name given, " surautomatism", implies that the methods "go beyond" automatism, but this position is controversial.
Automatic drawing (distinguished from drawn expression of mediums) was developed by the
surrealists, as a means of expressing the subconscious. In automatic drawing, the handis allowed to move ' randomly' across the paper. In applying chanceand accident to mark-making, drawing is to a large extent freed of rational control. Hence the drawing produced may be attributed in part to the subconscious and may reveal something of the psyche, which would otherwise be repressed. Examples of automatic drawing were produced by mediums and practitioners of the psychic arts. It was thought by some Spiritualists to be a spirit control that was producing the drawing whilst physically taking control of the medium's body.
Automatic drawing was pioneered by
André Masson. Artists who practised automatic drawing include Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Jean Arpand André Breton. The technique was transferred to painting(as seen in Miró's paintings which often started out as automatic drawings), and has been adapted to other media; there have even been automatic "drawings" in computer graphics. Pablo Picassowas also thought to have expressed a type of automatic drawing in his later work, and particularly in his etchings and lithographic suites of the 1960s.
Most of the surrealists' automatic drawings were
illusionistic, or more precisely, they developed into such drawings when representational forms seemed to suggest themselves. In the 1940sand 1950sthe French-Canadian group called Les Automatistespursued creative work (chiefly painting) based on surrealist principles. They abandoned any trace of representation in their use of automatic drawing. This is perhaps a more pure form of automatic drawing since it can be almost entirely involuntary - to develop a representational form requires the conscious mindto take over the process of drawing, unless it is entirely accidental and thus incidental. These artists, led by Paul-Emile Borduas, sought to proclaim an entity of universal values and ethics proclaimed in their manifesto " Refus Global".
As alluded to above, surrealist artists often found that their use of 'automatic drawing' was not entirely automatic, rather it involved some form of conscious intervention to make the image or painting visually acceptable or comprehensible, "...Masson admitted that his 'automatic' imagery involved a two-fold process of unconscious and conscious activity...." [The Surrealists: Revolutionaries in art & writing 1919-1935, Jemma Montagu, page 15]
Some surrealists write automatic "equations," though technically speaking they aren't really equations.
computer, like the typewriter, can be used to produce automatic writing and automatic poetry. The practice of automatic drawing, originally performed with pencil or pen and paper, has also been adapted to mouse and monitor, and other automatic methods have also been either adapted from non- digital media, or invented specifically for the computer. For instance, filters have been automatically run in some bitmap editor programs such as Photoshopand The GIMP, and computer-controlled brushes have been used to "simulate" automatism. [ [http://www.verostko.com/gallery.html Pathway Studio Gallery ] ] One of the newest applications of this approach is a Dynamic Paintingby San Base.
* [http://www.usc.edu/schools/annenberg/asc/projects/comm544/library/images/322.html An automatic drawing] by
* [http://www.biroco.com/automatic.htm "What is an automatic drawing?"]
* [http://www.cjmorgan.com/automatic-drawing/automatic-drawing.htm Automatic Drawing]
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