Surrealist Games

created 2 January 2009, revised 9 March 2009

We have lived far too long in the dreary region of homo economicus, our lives shadowed by principles of self-interest, utilitarian ‘necessitities’, instrumental moralities. But we are permitted to hope; to revive those great and optimistic words by Breton: Perhaps the imagination is on the verge of recovering its rights. We must welcome, as did the Surrealists, the re-entry into modern life of homo ludens, the imaginative man at play, the intuitive visionary.

–Mel Gooding 1991 from A Book of Surrealist Games

This is a small set of new and classic surrealist games, in connection with the Conceptual Art Scrapbook. They might possibly be used at an evening of collective improvisation in word, image and music, hosted by Rrose Sélavy.

  • NEW Surrealist Identity Interviews – find the reality above the reality of another participant and share with the group, variation of ‘Analogy Cards’ traditional surrealist game. [interview someone you don’t already know, something like an ice-breaker but also got people to think associatively.
  • NEW Palimpsest Stories – a collective, randomised word generator to use in creating new narratives in word or image – results from first trial added
  • Exquisite Corpse – the most famous classic surrealist game – do one version with words, one version with drawings NEW see the results of the first trial
  • Decalcomania Writ Large – concept for a performance based on a classic surrealist technique
  • Synesthesia – musical improvisation based on images created by participants, verbal and visual improvisation based on music played by participants
  • Ego Weekend – another random word generator based on identity – What are you? What do you do?
  • Digital Collage – word, image and sound cut up and reassembled digitally
  • Decalcomania – a surrealist painting technique used by Max Ernst and Oscar Domingez among others – use acrylic paints to create random ink blots and then incorporate them into pictures
  • more to come…

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