Surrealism is shaped from subconscious perceptions on reality thought up in dreams then expressed through art and photography. Lots of surrealism involves juxtapositions, this is where objects are placed together that probably naturally would not be seen together, such as clouds inside someone’s house.
Surrealism is used both in photography in paintings where they images has been thought of and people experience a “suspension of disbelief” when viewing the image created. This is where the viewer believes that the image is possible and it is of a real life situation and reality is left to one side for a short period. Surrealism creates a “suspension of disbelief” for most people as they are unaware of how the image was put together so therefore feel the image is real life. The viewer may be looking at an image where there is an elephant inside a classroom and believe this is real for a short period, without thinking logically such as, how would the elephant of got into the classroom, would there be a door big enough to fit it through etc.
Surrealism began in the early 1920’s developing out of the Dada movement in World War 1 where the centre of the movement was around Paris but the movement soon spread internationally into all types of industries from philosophy to visual arts. Surrealism was then taken up by both early photographers and artist who used their dreams to influence their work such as Salvador Dali.
Dali is well known and probably one of the most related artists towards surrealism. His famous painting “The Persistence of Memory” Melting pocket watches on a seaside is one of the most well-known surrealist artworks around today. This image was painted from what he remembered from a recent dream, it contains fairly bold colours such as the yellow on the cliffs and the blue in the sky. The sand on the beach is mainly dark brown/black and there isn’t much detail put into the sand. The image looks very dreamlike due to the colours used and the content in the painting. It is hard to tell where the light is coming from in this image due to there being a lack of obvious shadows, I think this also adds to the dreamlike look as in real life you would fairly easily be able to see where the sun was coming from but in this painting it is a lot less obvious. One of Jerry’s images consists of a stately looking room with a Grande fireplace and a small table in the bottom left hand side of the picture that has a map on. The way the camera has been angled looks like he has used a 35mm lens but been right at the back left of the room crouching down in the corner and angling the camera up as it allows both the floor of the room and the celling to be in the same shot. The original celling has been taken out and replaced with a cloudy moody looking sky with the sun just shining through one of the clouds. The way the lighting has been set up in the room it actually looks like the sun is shining down onto the desk as the shadow on the floor looks like it has been cast by the desk blocking the sunlight. The fire place that is on the right hand side of the picture also has a lightened area on it where the ‘sun’ is shining on it. This picture has been very well planned by Jerry as he has strategically set up the lighting in this room to make it look as realistic as possible in the final print. It looks like this print is only made of two negatives; one being the room itself and the other being the celling (sky). Jerry has been very precise and exact in making sure the lines where the walls hit the sky are perfectly straight and not distorted. The contrast in this image is very good and looks like he has used a high filter in the darkroom such as a filter 5 as it has both white whites and black blacks but you can still make out every bit of detail in the room and the sky, for example the shadow that the desk is casting on the rug you can still see the pattern of the rug in the shadow. Looking at both of these images I think it is clear that the Jerry Uelsmann image looks a lot more realistic than Dali’s painting. I think this is because the colors used in Dali’s painting are not very realistic whereas the shade of the image Jerry has produced is a lot truer to real life and I feel this gives off a much better surrealist look and I fee; the “suspense of disbelief” is a lot longer than that of Dali’s as the picture of the study is not out of the ordinary and neither is the picture of the sky it is just that they are put in the same image and juxtaposed that ads to the surrealist look/effect.
Hannah Hoch was a German woman born in 1889 who was known for her pioneering cut and stick art form the later went on to be known as photo montaging. Instead of using images that had been taken from the same view point and perspective she chose images to montage together that had different contrasting viewpoints and when put together in a montage gave off a very surreal effect. Some of her images that she created where used to make a strong statement on racial discrimination. The images she selects to montage are not only mainly from different viewpoints she also contrasts black and white images with color prints, by doing this she is obviously not trying to make the pictures look realistic and truthful they are just meant to have an effect on the viewer hopefully getting her point across.
Chema Madoz is a Spanish surrealist photographer who uses humor in his surrealist images. He is mainly known for his black and white surrealist images where he creates the surreal scene then takes the picture of the scene instead of some other photographers who do their work on Photoshop or in the dark room creating a surrealist image. In many of his photographs he uses juxtaposing subjects in the same frame that you wouldn’t ordinarily find together, for example in one of my favorite images of his he uses the slates in a drain cover on a path as a draining rack for plates as if they were in the kitchen drying off. The image is printed in a square format so is most likely taken on a Hasselblad unless it has been cropped after the image has been taken. The camera has been positioned at head height and is looking down on to the plates in the slats of the drain cover and I think the reason for this is because if the camera was positioned lower down you would not be able to see the slats and the drain cover and maybe confused to what the plates are resting on making it confusing and ruining the blunt surrealistic feel to the image but also if the image was taken directly above the plates looking straight down it would ruin all the depth in the image making it less effective.
Surrealism was first used in advertising due to laws changing in the advertisements of cigarettes around the 1970’s that banned celebrities and people who the public looked up to such as doctors to be used in the advertisement of tobacco products so the advertising departments had to dramatically change their advertising strategies and this is where surrealism started to be used in advertising. Benson and Hedges were on of the first companies to use surrealism in one of their ads. This ad was an image of a corner of a house with a mouse hole in the wall, instead of their being a mouse next to the hole it was just a packet of B&H cigarettes. This advertisement strategy of surrealism carried through until the 1980’s where all that was needed in the Benson and Hedges advert was a small amount of gold showing and the viewers would automatically relate this to the brand. People felt proud of spotting that the image was a B&H advert and looked forward to the next poster coming out so this surrealistic advertisement strategy really worked for B&H. Silk cut also used this technique and in one of their images they just has a picture of a pair of scissors cutting some silk and the viewers related this image as a Silk Cut advertisement.
Chema Madoz is a Spanish surrealist humor photographer, and is most well-known for his black and white surrealist photographs. This image of the plates rested in a drain cover like they would be beside a kitchen sink in a drying rack has been taken from head height looking down on them. There doesn’t seem to be any harsh light coming in from any direction so it was most likely taken on a cloudy overcast day as no obvious shadows are present either. He hasn’t filled up all the slots in the drain cover and has only used the last 4 furthest away from the camera and I think this adds to the effect as it makes it clear and obvious what the plates are resting in. Surrealism work features the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions often leading to humorous photography.
This picture if of a lipstick that is used by women to make their selves look better and at the end of the lipstick there is a false fingernail that women also use to enhance their look. The way the 2 subjects has been combined into one I think is really clever and it is acting as if the lipstick is the finger and the false nail is actually growing out of the lipstick giving it a very surrealistic look. There is light coming from both the right and left hand side of the image but the light on the right hand side of the image is stronger and you can tell this by the slight shadow casted by the lipstick on the left hand side of the image. The camera has been placed level with the middle section of the lipstick and then positioned so the lipstick has a equal width of background each side.
This picture is of a used match that has been burnt 1/3rd of the way down but at a glance it still looks like it is on fire due to the grain of the piece of wood the match is resting on. The camera has been positioned directly above the match and piece of wood to give it the effect that it is still alight, because of the angle the image was taken it almost looks like the match has been glued onto an upright wall/fence. As the image was taken on a Hasselblad and using black and white film it enhances the surrealist effect as it makes it harder to see that the “flame” isn’t real.
I find surrealism a very interesting subject and i also feel a i know a fair bit about it due to picking it as one of my four modules while studying Photography at A level. This past experience with surrealism gave me a good idea of the images i already liked and also key points to talk about. Overall i found this a very interesting topic to create a article on for the magazine.