Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Fit One, Pages Six and Seven as a Spread (What is Protosurrealism?)
What was Surrealism? An escape into perpetual dreams, perpetual revolution, perpetual reinvention, perpetual renewal through the device of the unconsciousness playing peek-a-boo with the artistic imagination, yes, yes, all the 20th century neuroses say look at me — the Surreal! The end result? The 21st-century post-postmodern artist manqué, addressing his fussy postcards from the hipster Present to the slaughterhouse of the Past. So much diffident worrying over the langorous finessing of … absolutely … nothing.
Protosurrealism says fiddle-dee-dee to all of the above. An artistic movement destined to occupy its proper alphabetized station between Postmodernism and Surrealism, but with far less formalities, Protosurrealism is imbued with the breezy style of the perpetual flaneur who is always "hello-I-must-be-going", an artistic movement which appears before Surrealism but happens after it.
In short, Protosurrealism is the 21st-century application of 19th-century answers to 20th-century problems!
Example: the double-page spread shown above. A classic example of 19th-century realistic pen & ink textual illustration, a style where nothing is left to the imagination because there is no imagination involved. The artist draws what he sees, nothing more, lest he be late for his tiffin.
And what does he see? He sees a 20th-century reader assuming that lexical and symbolic playfulness must really be confusion and alienation masquerading as nonsense — because the 20th-century reader always fears that everything is about himself! And even better, this reader begats a 21st-century reader who knows that everything is about himself.
What else does the Protosurrealist see? He sees a library full of universal histories of dreams to draw upon. The fact that they emanate from his past yet are always unexpected is the essential quality of being proto-anything, much less surrealism. And so, the Protosurrealist mollifies the neurotic tendencies of the 20th-century past with an academic performance of 19th-century draughtsmanship, delineating the cultural artifacts of Surrealism with the same precision as a bowl of flowers in a still-life. He then takes a quick peek at the calendar to ensure that this is the year 2007 and voilà!
Protosurrealism! Our future buries our past in a perpetual present!