Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bored? With the slightest breath in their upturned faces! (Surrealist games)

1.) Definitions or Question and Answer

For two or more players.

A question is written down, the paper folded to conceal it from the next player, who writes an answer. The paper is unfolded to reveal the result. Remarkable facts emerge.
(I find it useful to decide beforehand what type of question is being asked: who, what, when, where, why, how etc.)

I did this with some friends; here are my favorites:

What is sanity? The slight regret one feels after beating someone to death with a claw hammer.

Where is my true love buried? In a dried out bowl of dried out dreams.

What is common? It is the mucous that holds our society together.

Why did you leave me? Because Rimbaud fled to Africa.

Can we learn to respect our own humanity? Yes, but only in the shower.

How can we overcome that which holds us back? However the master sees fit.

How do you want to die? By jumping on the bandwagon before it crashes.

Why bother? Because in July everything looks like rainbows.

What is indifference? It is deeper than the briny sea yet shallower than a 7th grader.

Where do your heart strings sing? Beneath a mound of horse shit, where they belong.

When will I be free? Hopefully never, it gives me a headache.

How do you summon a demon? By trusting your intuition.

What makes a person happy? A calm cucumber circumnavigating corporeal cadavers.

Why does the caged bird sing? Because I said so, you obnoxious blighter!

What did he say when she asked him the time? "It is the eloquence of a true gentlemen."

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2.) Directions for Use

Using the style and format of the Directions to be found on the labels of household products, D.I.Y. kits and other ordinary items, apply them to items that do not require such instructions. The following example is by Jean-Claude Silbermann:



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3.) Frottage

A sheet of paper is placed on any natural or manufactured surface possessing a relief or incised pattern. The paper is rubbed with crayon, a soft pencil, charcoal, etc. By combining frottages from different surfaces complex effects can be achieved within one drawing. The pattern or image obtained can be coloured, cut up, or combined with the other materials in collage. Example:


Other examples can be found HERE. (This one is my favorite.)

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4.) The Paranoiac-critical Method

The Paranoiac-critical method was the invention of Salvador Dali and is an extension of the method of Simulation into the field of visual play, based on the idea of the 'double-image'.

According to Dali, by simulating paranoia one can systematically undermine one's rational view of the world, which becomes continually subjected to associative transformations. 'For instance, one can see, or persuade others to see, all sorts of shapes in a cloud: a horse, a human body, a dragon, a face, a palace, and so on. Any prospect or object of the physical world can be treated in this manner, from which the proposed conclusion is that it is impossible to concede any value whatsoever to immediate reality, since it may represent or mean anything at all.' (Marcel Jean) The point is to persuade oneself or others of the authenticity of these transformations in such a way that the 'real' world from which they arise loses its validity. The mad logic of Dali's method leads to a world seen in continuous flux, as in his paintings of the 1930s, in which objects dissolve from one state into another, solid things become transparent, and things of no substance assume form.

The Paranoiac-critical method is thus the reverse of the children's 'picture-puzzles' in which people are hidden in drawings of trees etc., and resemble more the 'double-images' employed by psychologists: the two faces that become a vase, and other similar illusions such as faces seen in rocks, landscapes in marble and the anthropomorphic forms of plants such as the mandrake root.

None is perhaps so striking as the face discovered by Dali in the following photograph.


First, the photo in its true orientation:


Then, when it's tilted on its side, a face is revealed:


(If you still cannot find the face, I cut it out HERE.)

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5.) The Exquisite Corpse

For three or more players.

This is the most celebrated Surrealist game of all. Its parlour game equivalent is
Heads, Bodies and Legs in English and Petits Papiers in France.

Each player receives a sheet of paper and folds it into equal sections, as many as there are players, and usually with the lines horizontal to the proposed picture. The sheets are smoothed out and each player draws whatever he will in the top section, allowing the lines to cross the crease by a few millimetres. The sheet is then refolded back onto this crease to conceal the drawing and passed to the next player who begins the next section from these lines. And so on, until the last section, when it is unfolded and the result revealed.

(The sheet may be passed back for the first player to furnish it with a title before the picture is revealed.)


The title of this game originated from the written version, which, when first played, produced the sentence: The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine. Interestingly, Otto Dix and Christoph Voll were "producing similar drawings in 1921, three years before the first exquisite corpse."

Here are two examples from when I tried this with a friend (it works fine with only 2 players):


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6.) Surrealist Collage

Max Ernst invented this method of pasting together fragments of given or found pictures. By using images that already had a similar 'look' (principally engravings illustrating novels, magazines and technical or commercial publications) he was able to create 'illusionistic' new pictures -- bizarre, fantastic, dream-like, ironic or grotesque. [...] Ernst's collage technique has become so familiar that it is hard to see it afresh.

A simple one I made:



1 comment:

Hectocotylus said...

Comments with examples are encouraged, and/or email me photos, and I'll post them.