Matching Items (21)

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Radio Transmission: Electricity and Surrealist Art in 1950s and ‘60s San Francisco

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Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Cinema Issue (2016)

This paper deals with a version of Surrealism that emerged in San Francisco in the late 1940s, and its influence on Wallace

Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Cinema Issue (2016)

This paper deals with a version of Surrealism that emerged in San Francisco in the late 1940s, and its influence on Wallace Berman’s film Aleph (1966) and Harry Smith’s Early Abstractions.

Many San Francisco poets of the 1940s through the 1970s understood poets as a visionary company possessing a nearly sacerdotal authority arising from their capacity to put aside the individual self and open themselves to influences from beyond—in a peculiar turn, these influences came to be understood as energy waves that are transmitted through the ether and operate the poet/artist—and cinema and the radio became models for these transmissions. The collage art that resulted was understood as anemic, cobbled together from insecurely apprehended fragments of thought carried in radio signals nearly drowned out by static. I conclude with comments relating the idea of artists’ feeble imaginations being operated by remote control to film and electric media.

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  • 2017-08-07

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Modern Architecture Will Help You

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Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Cinema Issue (2016)

La Ciudad Frente al Río (The City in Front of the River) is an Argentinian, ten-minute long film directed by Italian Surrealist

Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Cinema Issue (2016)

La Ciudad Frente al Río (The City in Front of the River) is an Argentinian, ten-minute long film directed by Italian Surrealist Enrico Gras in 1949. The film was part of the promotional material for Bajo Belgrano, a modern housing plan sponsored by the Buenos Aires City Hall under the auspice of populist president Juan Perón. As part of this promotion, German photographer Grete Stern designed a brochure with images from the film and text by the Study for the Plan of Buenos Aires (Estudio del Plan de Buenos Aires, hereafter EPBA). I compare the film and brochure to contemporaneous work by Stern: a series of photomontages illustrating a women’s advice column. The column mined its readers’ dreams for insights into their unconscious, and advised them on proper behavior. Following a similar method, the film found Buenos Aires’ unconscious in the chaos of city life, and revealed what I have termed as "pastoral modernity" as the cure. Masked behind a veneer of revolutionary modernity, the message of these works was that of a nostalgic return to the past—an invitation to sleep, and to dream. Complicating this message, subtle hints in both the film and the photomontages point to the artists’ awareness of the totalizing vision they were collaborating with.

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  • 2017-08-07

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‘Polycythemia,’ or Surrealist Intertextuality in the Light of Cinematic ‘Anemia’

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Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Cinema Issue (2016)

Robert Desnos’s and Man Ray’s 1928 film L'Etoile de mer has long been considered an exemplar of the surrealist love story, thematically

Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Cinema Issue (2016)

Robert Desnos’s and Man Ray’s 1928 film L'Etoile de mer has long been considered an exemplar of the surrealist love story, thematically similar to Salvador Dalí’s and Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien andalou (1929) but less overtly shocking. In comparison to the elaborate iconographical analyses of Chien, critiques of L'Etoile tend to describe its avant-garde cinematic style, to distinguish how it illustrates or deviates from Desnos’s scenario, or to provide summary analysis of some of its more obviously Freudian iconography. There have been fewer scholarly explorations of specific symbolism, yet the film exhibits many political-philosophical intertexts, one of which explicitly builds a bridge between the surrealist revolution and America’s core self-signifier, Liberty.

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  • 2017-08-07