Does Your Photo Slice The Eye Like A Razor?
It’s not everyone’s cracked cup of tea, stranded floating in a shallow puddle beneath a tower and a single bell that rings one time at noon sharp and has no echo. Others prefer more structure. There is something comforting about a landscape. The easy, sly knowing eye of a half-drawn model with clamshell lighting can call like a siren. But you, you find solace in the strange and dreamy.
I had this thought yesterday. My motor was slowing down as my son and I circled through Disneyland and I was, more than I ever did as a child, just admiring the typography of signs. We passed a couple taking a selfie in front of the castle, they crammed their faces into practiced poses — her eyes twinkled, his jaw swelled to 1.5x its normal size. Click. Then in an instant their faces deflated back to a resting state.
I found myself wanting to take a picture of that exact moment: the melting back to normal. And my thought was: I guess there’s no hiding that I’m a surrealist.
Maybe you are, too?
See if any of this sounds familiar:
The Surrealist Finds The Strange in the World.
I know people who are continually unimpressed. They are the callous ones. They’ve been there, seen that and bought the cranky tee. They are the critics. Deep down they are searching for something to love, but it’s hard for them. Love has let them down. So, their shell is the absence of the unknown. They will not stand wide-eyed, speech or breathless in the face of beauty or oddity. And they are not the surrealists.
When I see an escalator or a flight of stairs, I immediately wonder what the view is up or down the middle. The angle to and from creates a division of space between coming and going and it stirs something in me that carves up reality and plays with the rules of time.
And that’s how I know that I’m a surrealist. I am mesmerized and enthralled by those things in the world that have the ability to paint the strange or absurd in daily life. When I see people doing shadow/light photography or capturing what they like to call “the decisive moment,” I wonder if they are also surrealists. What else would draw someone toward those moments of everyday life, passing swiftly and think to turn it into a composition that stirs up trouble?
Surrealists Obsess Over The Plane.
The flat world is the playground of the surrealist. Because it makes it all a stage upon which elements can be put back, random, layered and in the order of their own mind.
This is why time melts on a stick. The surrealist’s landscape devours the temporal like grapes.
When I see lone trees. When I see silhouettes framed by light. When I see umbrellas or steps or rain. When I see compositions composed of leading lines that circle back and become more than the sum of its parts. When I see boxes and things placed in them, like an old, aged and haunted collector — I see surrealists in my midst.
Surrealists Raise More Questions Than Answers.
Why is there an elephant in this city? Why does this person walk off into the dark? Why is that thing floating between that man’s hands? Why is that woman drowning? Why is that guy wearing an ominous hoodie?
These are the modern day versions of why is that apple in front of that man’s face? Why is that razor cutting that eyeball?? Surrealists follow where their minds go, wherever they go, and trust that the themes discovered there are the pathway to the inner sanctum of all humans. Somehow surrealists never learned that these haunting images in their minds are lame, valueless associations, to be ignored. They embrace the pure molten lava of creativity — our personal associations. Depicting it releases the demons from our thoughts. It fires first and asks questions later.
Does any of this sound like your sized bowler hat? Do you hunt for images that stand out from the usual and shed light on the strange juxtapositions of everyday life? The ones that elevate the mundane through the unusualness of their timing, the miracle of their shape or the dreamlike, off kilter way they transport the viewer into a free state of wonder?
Maybe you’re a surrealist.
Thank you for reading! As always, if you like, please tap the disembodied heart and don’t forget to follow along at @joshsrose.