Monday, July 29, 2013

Facebook, Surrealism, and Collaboration

Good Day, Blogger world!

Another week begins.  I just finished writing a haiku.  Not just any haiku, and not just for me.  Some time ago, my mother started piecing together haikus, one each day, from her friends' Facebook statuses.  There is a surprising amount of material for this, especially when she just takes pieces of statuses and not the whole thing.  Her friends seem to love it, and so do I :).  This week I'm actually standing in for her in capacity of Facebook haiku poet.  Here is what I came up with tonight:

The perfect revenge
practically writes itself! 
sweet or unsweetened

(To see more of her work, you can follow her on twitter at @PeggyMackinnon.  To see more of mine, come visit me at @art_rat.  :)

I started writing some of my own, just sporadically.  I've been posting them on Facebook and twitter, and I'm noticing my twitter follower numbers picking up of late.  People have even specifically said that they like the haikus.  It's cool to see this kind of thing actually catching on.  

This makes me think of something that came my way on Facebook a while ago - a meme that one of my friends tagged me for:  

1 - Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random”
or click this link.
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to "Random quotations"
or click this link.
The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click this link.
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.

5 - Post it with this text in the "caption" and TAG the friends you want to join in.

This was what I came up with.  The original picture can be found here:

I feel like this kind of thing must have been at least partially inspired by the surrealists' "Exquisite Corpse" game.  This was originally a word game:  Each player (minimum 3) writes down a definite or indefinite article as well as an adjective, conceals it, and passes their paper to the player beside them.  That player then writes a noun, conceals it, and then passes the paper on to the next person, who writes a verb.  The next person proceeds with another definite or indefinite article and adjective, and the next person another noun.  This completes a sentence that nobody has read yet, which could be anything, and usually ends up being pretty amusing.  The game was actually named for one such sentence:  "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine".  

Most of us have been introduced to this kind of thing as a drawing game.  That was true for me, at least, and I've had a lot of fun with it.  This is part of what I love about surrealism - finding the creative potential in chaos.  Chance elements, not chosen by the creator/artist/player, acting as fertile ground for the creation of something unique, strange, and potentially challenging.  One wonders what kind of work we'd have seen from Salvador Dali, had he lived in this day and age, with a resource like the internet as his disposal.  No doubt he and his fellow surrealists had a hand in shaping this era, setting the stage for new ways of thinking and being creative.  

What's interesting is how purely original the results of these games can be, even though they are collaborative works.  Of course, there is the element of chance that gives it true spontaneity.  As an artist, one can spend many agonizing hours coming up with "original" work, straining for that final result that is just as often achieved by letting go and allowing whatever happens to happen.  Speaking from my own experience, a lot of my best work has come about that way.  I've even illustrated some of my Mom's Facebook haikus, and been pretty happy with the results:  

Nothing is really, truly original - as Carl Sagan once said, to make an apple pie from scratch, one must first invent the universe.   We don't create our own materials, but we do decide what we create with them.  There is, of course, plenty to be said for collaboration.  The internet age has made it so much easier to find inspiration, resources, and even collaborators.  As long as we can respect each other's abilities and remain open-minded, the possibilities are endless.  

If I may leave you with a couple more links, here is a Deviantart group dedicated to the creation of Exquisite Corpse works. All of these works are collaborations by different artists, and the results are consistently mindblowing!

Also, if you like the look of my Facebook haiku illustrations, you may want to check out this Cafepress shop, a collaboration of 3 creative minds, including mine and Mom's:

Thanks so much for reading.  Later, Blogger world!  :)

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