U3A member Robert Edmondson’s presentation to the Photography group
On 5 January Robert Edmondson gave a short talk on Surrealism to the U3A Photography group, illustrated by digital projection with 31 of his own surreal photos derived from colour transparencies.
Surrealism is a cultural movement arising from Dada, which began in the 1920s and is best known for its visual art, especially the work of such artists as Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. For some, its aim was to “resolve the contradictions between dream and reality”.
Surreal works may exhibit unexpected juxtapositions, illogicality, mystery, black humour or spontaneity. They may shock or even offend. Some surrealists, such as André Breton, believed that Surrealism should be part of a revolutionary political movement.
Robert explained that surreal photographs may be produced in many ways. Masks and models may be placed against unexpected backgrounds. Distorting mirrors can be used. The commonest technique he described was montage – placing two colour transparencies together in the same slide mount to give a combined image.
He showed the group silhouettes with “impossible” multicoloured backgrounds, and a picture of the sky being torn apart by gloved hands holding Rubik’s cube above abandoned deckchairs, among other strange images.
Some pictures could be interpreted as a comment about society – as in The Viewers showing a couple, within a TV screen, in the countryside looking at an electronic circuit in the sky – but most images were merely weird, with no obvious message.
Usually, for the original montage, the separate photos should be slightly overexposed.
Members discussed how similar images could be produced by digital methods.