Durand, Alain-Philippe [faculty advisor, Department of Languages]




Surrealism, unconscious, creative


The realm of Surrealist creation is essentially that of the interior human experience, a space of diverse layers and textures, of contrasting, often confounding dimensions. Indeed, in works of evocative emotional power and visceral intensity, Surrealist artists have evinced an ideal of expressive freedom that, conceptually bold, offers a singular means of accessing and knowing life’s eternal ambiguities. Thus, as I have long been irresistibly drawn to the Surrealist notion of such an unconditional, unfiltered creative freedom, I was eager, through my own research and writing, to explore the possibilities of such a non-rational approach to creative expression. I initiated my work with a course of preliminary research, intended to deepen my knowledge of Surrealist preoccupations and artistic principles as well as to clarify and contextualize my own creative intentions. From a close reading of André Breton’s seminal text, Manifestes du surréalisme, I proceeded to a more wide-ranging engagement with Surrealist writings and artistic works, including, but not limited to, those of Georges Bataille, Paul Éluard, Louis Aragon, Joan Miró, and André Masson. Through this research, I grew increasingly interested in the creative implications of Surrealist psycho-automatism, a means of expression that, as Breton articulated it in Manifestes, is intended to free the self from rational restraint and, in so doing, illuminate obscure recesses of the unconscious. I therefore decided to focus my investigations on this concept of psycho-automatism, a concept that would further serve as the exploratory impetus behind my subsequent creative work. Though it would inform all manner of Surrealistic creation, psycho-automatism was, first, applied through writing, and the fascinating early results remain both provocative and revelatory. Indeed, the poetic works of such Surrealists as Paul Éluard and Louis Aragon possess a certain a hallucinatory potency that, variously seductive and disorienting, contains all the fluctuating ambiguity of lived emotional experience. This ambiguity—that which blurs, even dissolves distinctions between conscious and unconscious, between substance and illusion—is that which I have ultimately sought to conjure through my own Surrealistic writings.