We were given some reading about Freud's theories of dreams. I found it a bit long winded but this is what I took away from it;
Freud saw dreams as wishes or repressed wishes and even connects a lot of sexual desire and frustration with this. He also shows a connection with infancy and dreams, like our minds are quite childlike and children's minds are less repressed than adults so our dreams are places where repression doesn't exist. Anything can happen in a dream, alright they're probably influenced by daily events in our lives but dreams turn these upside down. People we know are in our dreams but often have different faces; places seem familiar but look like other places. Random animals and words are all intertwined within this mixed up rollercoaster of a ride. But the point is that no matter how much we read into them, we never really understand our subconscious. Is this the same for Surrealism??
Obviously surrealism wasn't just influenced by this one idea of dreams but it had a very big part to play. Surrealism is an art movement where the artists that par took broke down barriers leading to fragmented consciousness and the endless frustration of want and desire. Surrealists believed that the mind's imaginative powers were directly fuelled by desire; they wanted people to change their perceptions of the world and succumb to their inner thoughts. They wanted people to bring their subconscious to the waking world. They enjoyed the idea of the enigma and were greatly interested in automatism. To me surrealism is a refreshing idea; they don't take themselves too seriously unlike the Futurists before them. They disrupted conventional expectations and challenged the status quo. Juxtaposing elements that would be deemed irreconcilable was a radical idea in the 1920's but I feel that we have been desensitized by this imagery, adverts, programmes and films still use surrealist elements today. This might be a bit of a dud example but one image we see every year is a Coca-Cola advertisement where we see a polar bear drinking the soft drink from a bottle. Another example is the Subway adverts where giant talking vegetables try to bully people into eating them, these two have taken things that were know and placed them into extraordinary circumstances and as consumers we clearly enjoy and buy into this idea as they are two of the biggest corporations in the world.
One thing I have noticed about some surrealist images is the quite nightmarish objects, like dismembered body parts, influenced by the two world wars, but surely these aren't wishes or repressed wishes of sexual desire. Fear is more of a word that comes to mind but Freud sees nightmares and fear as being wish-fulfilment of a masochistic nature, the people having these have a desire to be humiliated or tortured. Now, I have had plenty of nightmares that I really would not wish upon myself in real life.
I suppose in conclusion to what I'm saying or trying to say is that I think it's easier to decipher surrealist art than it is to decipher a person’s dreams and/or nightmares, maybe we’d need to know a little about the artist’s background but surely the awoken unconsciousness is more telling than the sleeping unconsciousness. In some ways I think Freud knew what he was talking about but in others, I think even he got a bit confused.
Visage of war, 1940, Salvador Dali.