What is surrealism?
Surrealism is art, literature and politics, and it goes far beyond art, literature and politics.Sleep is both the goddess and the destroyer of Surrealist pursuits. The lucid dreamer and the chronic insomniac experience different sides of the same coin.There is nothing more sacred and surreal than the exportation of objects and events from the unconscious into the physical relm of the conscious.The subconscious is your bridge to widened perception of both conscious and unconscious sensation. Use it to your advantage.

The use of Automatism and Critical Paranoia in Surrealist practice and technique may be seen as a means of conditioning the subconscious as a perceptive tool for creative device; to know what is not knowable, to connect the unconnectable. By forcing these situational realizations upon the higher and lower centers of thought and perception, may you begin to make use of what resides in the subconscious mind. You may choose to call it what you will, and dowith it what you will.

-- Banjo Ruthless & I.N.X.J.U.

Surrealism and Painting

"External commentary has disproportionately determined the popular conception of the Surrealist movement. Interpretation takes the place of experience, and allegedly disinterested discussion is given more weight than the movement's continuing discourse. Bound and gagged, its naked throat is forever on the block. Reduced from a distance to a series of totems, André Breton and the Surrealist Movement are at even greater risk of being seen as nothing but chapters in art history and "rooms" in government-endowed collections. All those who want to prevent this kind of entombment should explore the great, slow-beating heart of Surrealism and Painting on their own, and let Surrealism speak for itself."


(1896-1966) is regarded as the founder of the surrealist movement. It started when, with the help of French poet Philippe Soupault, he developed the concept of automatic writing. His main concern at the time was to find a superior reality, where reality and dream would merge. They then started a literary magazine (Littérature), welcoming contributions by major writers and artists like Aragon, Utrillo, Picabia, and so on. During the year 1926, they published the first parts of André Breton's _self book: Nadja. He had met in October an unknown, strange girl who was experiencing what Breton was developing as a theory, and experiencing it in her own life. It finally proved to be dangerous (as seen by the common society) to live without making differences between so-called reality and dreams; it led her to madness, and she was soon put in an asylum.

The final line of Nadja is well known to Patti Smith fans from the back cover of Radio Ethiopia:

"La beauté sera convulsive ou ne sera pas"
"Beauty will be convulsive or not at all."

Vice of Surrealism


Literally, without government. Not to be confused with chaos. Anarchism is that political philosophy which advocates the maximization of individual responsibility and the reduction of concentrated power -- regal, dictatorial, parliamentary: the institutions which go loosely by the name of 'government' -- to a vanishing minimum. It has no connection with bomb-throwing radicals: it has, in fact, been a point of view which has attracted biologists, such as, the founder of ecology, and anthropologists Kropotkin. To advocate it one must practice considerable self-abnegation, because the type of community it envisagescannot, for obvious reasons, be prescribed." --Alex Comfort (from the Preface to People Without Government by Harold Barclay, 1982)

The Fifth Estate


Written by Andre'Breton
On 27 September 1933 (around eleven at night, as I was trying to fall asleep earlier than usual) , I once more recorded such a series of words, not provoked by anything conscious in me. Although spoken as if by an actor offstage, they were quite distinct and, to what is aptly called the interior ear, constituted a remarkably autonomous group. I have been forced at various times to turn my attention to these particular verbal formations which, in any given case, can appear very rich or very poor in sense but- at least by the suddenness of their passage and by the total, conspicuous lack of hesitation which reveals the manner in which they are brought to us-bring to mind such an exceptional certainty that one does not hesitate to examine them in greater depth. Plunged each day into the fog of received ideas, man is led to conceive of all things and to conceive of himself through a dizzy series of quickly hidden stumbling,of false steps rectified as best as possible.
The fundamental disequilibrium of modern civilized man vainly tries to absorb itself in the artificial concern with minor and transitory equilibriums. The odious crossing out of words increasingly afflicts the written page, crossing out life itself with a stroke of rust. All the "sonnets" that are still written, all this senile horror of spontaneity, all this rationalistic refinement, all the conceit of instructors, all this incapacity to love, conspire to convince us that it is impossible to flee the old house of correction. To correct, to correct one self, to polish, to smooth out, to find fault instead of drawing blindly from the subjective treasure only for the sake of throwing here and there on the sand a handful of emeralds and foaming algae-this is a command which, in art as elsewhere, slavish custom and poorly understood rigor have for centuries asked us to obey. But it is also a command, which has been infringed, historically, in exceptional and fundamental circumstances, Surrealism begins from that point.


When psychology talked about Automatism, these artists interpreted it as referring to a suppression of consciousness in favor of the subconscious. This group, being more focused on feeling and less analytical, understood Automatism to be the automatic way in which the images of the subconscious reach the conscience. They believed these images should not be burdened with "meaning."

Faithful to this interpretation, the Automatists saw the academic discipline of art as intolerant of the free expression of feeling, and felt form, which had dominated the history of art, was a culprit in that intolerance. They believed abstractionism was the only way to bring to life the images of the subconscious. Coming from the Dada tradition, these artists also linked scandal, insult and irreverence toward the elite's with freedom. They continued to believe that lack of form was a way to rebel against them.


Visual and verbal "automatism"

Automatic Writing



I want to be known as the most brilliant man in America . . .
Prepared the way for Dharma in America without mentioning Dharma . . .
distributed monies to poor poets & nourished imaginative genius of the land
Sat silent in jazz roar writing poetry with an ink pen--
wasn't afraid of God or Death after his 48th year

Ego Confession
San Francisco, October 1974



Language is a virus"
"We must find out what words are and how they function.
They become images when written down,
but images of words repeated in the mind
and not of the image of the thing itself."
- W.S. Burroughs

This controversial novel, like much of Burroughs's work, is about the quest for meaning through drugs and addiction; it incorporates the hallucinatory disjointedness of drug use and withdrawal in a narrative detailing the narrator's addiction to opiates, followed by his treatment and cure. In Burroughs's world, the words "addiction" and "junk" are metaphors for the human condition: all of humanity, he feels, is victimized by some form of addiction. Burroughs derives his plot, characters, and imagery from various types of popular fiction, including detective stories, Gothic tales, science fiction, and pornography, and his work is permeated with his famously paranoid view of the world.


Jack Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. As the author of the novel, On the Road, Kerouac became a leader and a spokesperson for the Beat Movement.


João Colagem' stay in the Netherlands has definitely justify traces in his work. The change from Central Brasil to Holland has been very great. Colagem's vieuw has widened, literally and figuratively.


Literally, against the prevalent culture. Related terms: alternative, beat, bohemian, edge, hip, head, freak, punk. Most usually the term 'counterculture' refers to the alternative lifestyle movement during the 1960s.


It may be considered one of Surrealism's contributions to modern artistic thinking and interpretation. I would argue that Surrealism is more of a method and means of thought than it is en entity to be understood. Critical Paranoia should then be considered a primary exercise in attaining the, 'pinnacled depths of that which is Surreal.'


A western Europe artistic and literary movement (1918-23) that sought the discovery of authentic reality through the abolition of traditional culture and aesthetic forms.



From Dada to Wave


Compliment Generator


"Greetings to the solitary. Friends, fellow beings you are not strangers to us. We are closer to one another than we realize. Let us remember one another at night, even though we do not know each other's names."

Joans, TED

Ted Joans passed away at his home in Vancouver on April 25, 2003. He was 74.
An ongoing tribute to Ted is found here



Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren

He was born in Santiago, Chile in 1911. He studied architecture at the Universidad Catolica in Santiago. In 1933 Matta traveled to Paris and worked for two years as a draftsman in the Paris studio of famed architect Le Corbusier. While visiting his aunt in Madrid, he met Federico Garcia Lorca and Pablo Neruda. Neruda introduced Matta to Salvador Dali and Andre Breton. Impressed by Matta's drawings, Breton invited him to join the Surrealist group in 1937. Influenced by his association with the Surrealists and by Marcel Duchamp's theories of movement and process, Matta began to explore the realm of the subconscious and to develop an imagery of cosmic creation and destruction.



musique concrète
(French: "concrete music"), experimental technique of musical composition using recorded sounds as raw material. The technique was developed about 1948 by the French composer Pierre Schaeffer and his associates at the Studio d'Essai ("Experimental Studio") of the French radio system. The fundamental principle of musique concrète lies in the assemblage of various natural sounds recorded on tape (or, originally, on disks) to produce a montage of sound. During the preparation of such a composition, the sounds selected and recorded may be modified in any way desired--played backward, cut short or extended, subjected to echo-chamber effects, varied in pitch and intensity, and so on. The finished composition thus represents the combination of varied auditory experiences into an artistic unity.
A precursor to the use of electronically generated sound, musique concrète was among the earliest uses of electronic means to extend the composer's sound resources. The experimental use of machinery in musique concrète, the random use of ingredients, and the absence of the traditional composer-performer roles characterize the technique as a pioneering effort that led to further developments in electronic and computer-produced research in music. Compositions in musique concrète include Symphonie pour un homme seul (1950; Symphony for One Man Only) by Schaeffer and Pierre Henry and Déserts (1954; for tape and instruments) and Poème électronique (performed by 400 loudspeakers at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair), both by the French-American composer Edgard Varèse.


Characterized by its unique assimilation of sounds, harmonies, and notes. Many times this agglomeration takes the form of what may seem random and without organization. However, the aim of the music, like the aim of all Dada mediums, is the destruction of traditional symbolic communication.  In surrealism, music is much like the process of automatic writing. As such, it seeks to tap into the unconscious as a source of liberated expression, working within organizational structures


What is the sound of fifteen donkeys falling in a space vacuum filled with intestines?
Schlloomp! Ahh! Gorgonzala has forgotten the snakes again!

Oddly, Breton never made mention of the use and validity of applying surrealist techniques to the generation of sound, even to the more organized generation of sound we call 'music.' Early DADA performances at Cabaret Voltaire and elsewhere developed muchof their zeal and whim with mass pandemonium generated from mass cacophany.

Automatism certainly has its full and perhaps even more relevant application in music. Picking notes at whim from the interior of a hat may easily generate a melody of the most automatic purism. Likewise the perceived voices and sounds heard at the outermost vestiges of sleep are purely critically paranoid. And who is to say what the true paranoid schizophenic hears through unseen walls should be disregarded? It is perhaps the delusional patient in need of medical attention who has reached the higest plateau of Surrealistic Vision.

Noise Bands



Co-founded in France in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and Francois le Lionnais, Oulipo (Ouvroir de Literature Potentielle - The Workshop for Potentential Literature) gives itself as principal task the systematic and formal innovation of constraints for the manipulation and creation of literature.


What was the future of Surrealism before there was Surrealism? Bosch and Ducasse seemed to know of it before Apollinaire coined the actual phrase 'Surrealism'. However, would Surrealism (or monotheism, or fascism..) have contributed so significantly to the history and events of the 20th Century if Surrealism had not been so aptly named 'Surrealism'? Regardless, it seems unlikely that anyone shall soon disprove Surrealism or invent _self engines and devices to make it obsolete before the coming of the next millenium.

Ahhh, something of relevance.. Mentioning Surrealism and the World Wide Web in the same breath brings two points to mind: what people call 'Surreal' and the opportunities for Surrealistic Metastasis throughout this developing medium. As of one year past, Lycos and Webcrawler were amassing information about sites and content on the web. Running a search for the word 'Surrealism' produced very little.. a few sites with some images by Dali, and a page at LeWeb Museum. Run the same search now and you could spend a few hours investigating the output of links presented. Of course much of this material reflects the presence of more sites with pictures by Dali (including ours), the expansion of LeWeb Museum, and the many pages featuring the word 'Surrealist' before 'breakfast' or 'lightbulb'.

The more interesting question however, is how Surrealist technique and vision can make use of the Web, and not just the WWW, for FTP, IRC, CuSeeMe and other appendages of the Internet present some truly astounding means for real-time collaborations with people from around the world. No longer do you need to crowd everyone in the same room for an evening of Exquisite Cadaver. Do it electronically, and spread your contacts from coast to coast across the continents. For those of you saying 'it's not the same', indeed it isn't! It is an experience unto itself and what it may lack in physical location is met in other ways and means that cannot be attained by having people at the same location at the same time. The practice of Surrealism can only benefit from collaborative interaction, and the fact that the internet is a medium specifically for communication means the two go naturally hand in hand.

-- Banjo Ruthless & I.N.X.J.U.


Book Reviews



NOT BORED! is an anarchist, situationist-inspired, low-budget, irregularly published, photocopied journal.



"Serbian Surrealist Group," which is also a homage to Marko Ristic, from "a long time ago." Although he's not a Salvador Dali, the site is refreshing because it adds to one's understanding of surrealism -- most of the art world today only cares about the most famous of the surrealists, and usually the famous ones came from the French group. This site is good because it helps demonstrate the "internationality" of the surrealist movement, and features some collage and automatic texts.

Thank youEric Bragg for the (above) link and words.

Vicente Gutierrez Escudero - Cantabria group, based in Santander, Spain - the location of the sanatarium where Leonora Carrington was held for a while, chronicled in her book 'Down Below'.


Archivo Surrealista el universo del surrealismo en español.

  Portland(blog) Stockholm Chicago
By Penelope Rosemont  


"Only through art and imagery can people be persuaded in a visceral, non-verbal or non-intellectual way.
This is important in the spread of ideas since verbal communications can be manipulated to deceive while artists can pursue the graphic manipulation of images to reveal hidden truths."


Social Surrealism works with symbolic images representing the inner visions of the workings of man within the context of the collective unconscious.
The Eternal Herod, By Mariu Suarez, 60"x78" Oil and egg-tempera on canvas
Social Surrealism uncovers the monsters created, and the suffering inflicted, by man's misinterpretation of reality. It exposes, examines and satirizes the hypocrisy of society, making it the most unsettling type of Surrealism. Because Social Surrealism looks for the true meaning of justice, it conveys the reality of how all societies fall short of their highest potential.

Alonso G. Smith
For over fifty years, San Francisco Bay Area surrealist painter Alonso G. Smith has diligently addressed numerous social, psychological and political issues through his highly satirical style and unique color palate. His works challenge us to carefully examine what lies hidden behind the obvious in our surrounding world. Born 1917 in Palo Alto, CA, Alonso unexpectedly passed away in June, 1996.

Ellie Barrett Wilder
Drawings, paintings and mixed media

Glenn Hirsch
BIOMORPHIC FANTASIES - These surrealist paintings explore an ancient sci-fi future where ganglions and circuits cross-fertilize, where carbon chains and silicon wafers have finally wed.


This group interpreted Automatism to mean allowing the images of the subconscious to surface undisturbed so that their meaning could then be deciphered through analysis. They wanted to faithfully represent these images as a link between the abstract spiritual realities, and the real forms of the material world. To them, the object stood as a metaphor for an inner reality. Through metaphor the concrete world could be understood, not by looking at the objects, but by looking into them. Veristic Surrealists, saw academic discipline and form as the means to represent the images of the subconscious with veracity; as a way to freeze images that, if unrecorded, would easily dissolve once again into the unknown. They hoped to find a way to follow the images of the subconscious until the conscience could understand their meaning. The language of the subconscious is the image, and the consciousness had to learn to decode that language so it could translate it into its own language of words. Later, Veristic Surrealism branched out into three other groups (see Research on Surrealism In America)

Rene Magritte

"My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question 'What does that mean'? It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable." - Rene Magritte

Flightless Hummingbird


Black Swan Press