Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mid-week Masters: Un Chien Andalou

I cracked up when I saw this was on Netflix now. I had to watch this short so many times when I was in art school, I had to watch it almost as many times as I had to read "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction", so... a lot of times. It's a silent film made by the Surrealists, including Salvador Dali (before he and the Surrealists had a mutual parting of the ways because he was a little to weird). If you've ever tried to watch Un Chien Andalou and come away with the thought "I don't get it. It doesn't make any sense" You're not alone and you have actually gotten it because it's not supposed to make any sense. It's a series of loosely related vignettes that are supposed to shock and you and make you feel uneasy, but they're not really telling a story the way traditional films do. It's not quite as shocking now as I'm sure it was in the 30s, but it is still weird.

When I was taking a video art class in art school, a friend and I made a video inspired by the Surrealists' idea of stringing together unrelated visuals. We started by taking turns writing down the first word that came to mind when you read the word before it, then we went out and filmed visual representations of the words and strung them together into what I guess you could call a film. As I remember most of the other students in the class hated it, which I thought was a victory because the Surrealists kind of wanted viewers to hate their films. My partner in making the film was less amused.

Fair warning: If you are at all squeamish there is a moment in the very beginning that involves an eyeball and a straight razor. Pretty gross.

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