surrealism and the uncanny





Surrealism is a term used in art coined in the twentieth century, it influenced and was present in literature, art, and philosophy. 'Surrealism aimed to revolutionise human experience, rejecting a rational vision of life in favour of one that asserted the value of the unconscious and dreams. The movement’s poets and artists found magic and strange beauty in the unexpected and the uncanny, the disregarded and the unconventional' (TATE, no date). Surrealism today however has lost some of it's potency, what the general public may consider surreal sometimes is not at all surreal and rather just strange or belonging to another art term altogether. With the most commonly known names in surrealism gone there is little for the term to stand on in terms of producing new widely recognised works, and for this reason I believe the term is losing it's potency and it's meaning is being confused among the general public.

Surrealism also led me in to 'The Uncanny'. The term was first used by German psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch in his essay On the Psychology of the Uncanny, 1906. Jentsch describes the uncanny – in German ‘unheimlich’ (unhomely) – as something new and unknown that can often be seen as negative at first' (TATE, no date). A good example could be a teddy bear with human teeth. The teddy bear is a widely known toy, most people likely had one as a child or have seen them in other peoples houses, you put teeth in them and suddenly it becomes unsettling to look at. Two objects we are familiar with but don't usually see together can be unsettling and this is the 'uncanny'. This could also mean something so realistic it is seen as creepy, something so close to life, this is why I have chosen to include human facial features on my apple. An apple resembles a human face, with the human and fruit features mixed together I hope to create an unsettling viewer experience. I hope to encapsulate the uncanny and what it means, all informed by research and experimentation.