Surrealism Workshop – Art & the Conscious Mind

In this workshop we explored the relationship between different modes of consciousness and how it related to creativity.

We took surrealism and dadaism as a starting point for the workshop. Surrealism and dadaism responded to the rejection of a logical approach to life, they saw that the scientific, technological and logical pattern of thought often led to the justification of horrific wars. The dadaists and then surrealists looked to reject the logical narrative of life. Artists were released (with the help of the rise in photography as a process) from realism, and were able to engage in a much more creative and exploratory approach to art.

The surrealists, engaging in ideas of Freud and psychoanalysis, began to explore the use of games to unlock chance, humor and inconsistency  – allowing these things to be used as tools to create artwork.

During the workshop we looked at the game ‘exquisite corpses’ and as a group generated a number of ‘characters’. It was enjoyable to allow our art to be led by uncertainty and humor, with a time limit forcing us to draw before thinking – we were hopefully able to engage more with our subconscious minds, rather than making precise and planned drawings.

Here were some of the outcomes

We were then challenged, in groups, to create our own ‘surrealist game’ – which was actually surprisingly difficult!! Our pair (myself and Gweni) were fortunate enough to be able to play our game with the whole group – and were really excited to see the outcomes! Our game consisted of the following rules:

  1. Fold the paper in half
  2. On the top half, write an instruction (drawing response – e.g. draw something that smells)
  3. Pass the paper to another person
  4. Carry out the instruction on the paper that you have now received, draw your response on the bottom half
  5. Add another instruction to the top half of the paper you have just drawn on
  6. Pass the paper to another person
  7. Modify the existing drawing according to the latest instruction on the paper
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for as many times as agreed

It took us a while to establish a proper set of rules, understand them ourselves and then explain them to the rest of the group. But we tried it out – and the responses were actually really interesting.

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