If the world were clear, art would not exist. 

-Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Dadaism, also known as DaDa, was an art movement that originated in Switzerland after the First World War and then expanded throughout Europe and North America. Dadaist artists rejected logic, reason, and traditional aesthetics, embracing illogical and irrationality. It was an anti-art movement.
 
Dadaism believed that the root cause of World War One was bourgeois nationalism and colonialism, and thus advocated opposition to the consistency of culture and knowledge.
One of the representatives of Dadaism, Hugo Ball, once said that  "For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in."​
In this movement, one of the most iconic works is the Fountain created by Marcel Duchamp in 1917. Duchamp purchased a urinal at a store and signed a fictitious name and date as an exhibition in museums. (The original work has been lost. All major museums’ are replicas.)
Fountain challenged viewers' perception of traditional art. One later philosopher, Stephen Hicks wrote, "His message was clear: Art is something you piss on."  

Fountain

Artist: Marcel Duchamp​

Photo by FindingaBlackSwan.com

Dadaism began to shift to Surrealism after 1920s. Surrealism originated in Paris and undertook Dadaism’s anti-cure cognition, using non-logical and unpredictable expressions to make subconscious minds speak for themselves, thus achieving an absolute sense of reality.
Surrealism was influenced by The Frankfurt School at that time. The school promoted the use of dialectics to analyze and understand things, rather than simply interpreting the structure of things as a cause and effect. Because of complexity and contradictions that are embodied in many things, simply giving it a definition will cause misunderstandings.
 
Like Surrealism, the Frankfurt School opposed what it considered rigid thinking.  One of the representatives of the Frankfurt School: Herbert Marcuse in his book "One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society" criticized consumerism and the growing monotony and solidification of ideas.  Both Surrealism and the Frankfurt school are trying to find humanity repressed by instrumental rationality. By deconstructing common things and showing them to the viewer in an unfamiliar attitude, it will enhance the viewer's understanding of common things.This is the method of Defamiliarization.
René Magritte's painting Ceci n'est pas une pipe is one of the representative works of Surrealism. Below the pipe in the painting is written in French, "This is not a pipe."
This is certainly not a pipe. This is an oil painting. This contradiction can give the viewer a break from the inherent ideology.

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

Artist: René Magritte​

Let’s look at a social experiment:
This is a waiting room where the camera is hidden. All people in this room are fake patients except the woman who is wearing a purple dress sitting in the right corner.
At regular intervals, the waiting room regularly plays a "beep" sound. These actors stand up and sit down every time they hear the beep. The purple-dressed woman feels puzzled the first time that everyone stands up and sits down with the “beep” sound.
But just after three "beep" sounds, the purple-dressed woman also stands up with the others and does not ask why they are standing up and sitting down.  
After that the camera crew instructs these actors to gradually walk away, leaving the purple-dressed woman alone in the room. Even though she is alone, she immediately stands up and sits down after hearing the beep.
Then a real patient just like the purple-dressed woman enters the waiting room. After seeing the purple woman stand up twice, he is curious to ask why she is doing this. The purple-dressed woman says that she saw that everyone who used to be in this waiting room was standing up after hearing the beep, so she thinks she is supposed to do the same.
After hearing what the woman said, the person begins to stand up and sit down with the woman after hearing the beep. More and more real patients gradually enter to the waiting room, and the new arrivals see the previous people doing this action with the “beep”, so they follow along without even asking why.

Social Conformity

YouTube: Brain Games

The One-dimensional thinking does not just happen in the waiting room but is also common in life. We all need to escape our own way of thinking in order to understand this society and the world in depth. Then we need to introduce some ridiculous feelings. When we feel something is absurd or nonsense, that is when we start to reevaluate inherent ideology. That’s where defamiliarization come in.
Defamiliarization is a technique of presenting common things in an unfamiliar way to enhance the viewer’s perception of the familiar.  Almost every single art piece contains some level of defamiliarization. Take Renaissance’s sculptures and paintings as the examples: marble and pigment were used to have the same visual texture as flesh.​
The history of art is the history of defamiliarization.

Artist: Man Ray

Photo credits to the artist.

Left: The Pieta by Michelangelo

Right: Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

 

We understand  the materials,
Mimic the materials,
and change the materials
 
All art results from our temptation to better understand the world.
 
The absurdity of the everyday world is hidden in plain sight. This website is an invitation to disrupt patterns of convention and regard the familiar in a new light.

Larmes (Tears)

Artist: Man Ray

Object​

Artist: Meret Oppenheim

Lobster Telephone

Artist: Salvador Dalí

A bookstore in Chengdu, China. Books packaged in chip bags.

Photo by FindingaBlackSwan.com

 

Artist: Tom Eckert

Artist: Urs Fischer

Artist: Ron Mueck

Kui Hua Zi (Sunflower Seeds)

Artist: Ai Weiwei 

Artist: Katerina Kamprani 

The Gift

Artist:  Man Ray

The Persistence of Memory​

Artist: Salvador Dalí

The Evil Eye 

Artist: Enrico Donati

Photo by FindingaBlackSwan.com

My Nurse

Artist: Meret Oppenheim

Artist: Shok-1

Spitting Leaders

Artist: Arnhem

I shop therefore I am

Artist: Barbara Kruger​

Artist: ICY and SOT 

 

Artist: Banksy

 

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