Concept: Surrealism

Surrealism is the concept that my interactive piece will apply to. Surrealism is a 20th century movement that was shaped by emerging theories on our perception of reality. It is dedicated to expressing the imagination as revealed in dreams, which is most commonly done through the irrational juxtaposition of images. Rene Magritte is a famous surrealist artist…

‘much of the work created by Rene Magritte, takes everyday, normal objects, and he would simply rearrange the figures, and locations, forcing the viewer to take a deeper look at what was in front of them, and at what the image truly represented.’ (

Here are two examples of Magrittes surreal artwork that stood out most to me:

Ren? Magritte, The Son of Man, 1964, Restored by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009  øðä îàâøéè, áðå ùì àãí, 1964, øñèåøöéä ò"é ùîòåï éðåáéõ, 2009-The Son of Man, 1946. This painting is a self-portrait that features an apple covering up his face. Magritte says

‘Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present’ (

This idea relates to the surrealist idea of the ‘real’ and ‘imagination’, as in this case we know that hidden behind the apple is his face, but what individual people imagine his face to look like behind the object may differ. Hence the viewers will experience conflictions between what is actually present and the hidden.

golconda-Golconda, 1953. This painting relates nicely to my idea as you have various men that look as if they are falling from the sky. The ‘raining men’ are positioned against a row of buildings and blue sky. The inclusion of the men encourages viewers to explore deeper into the painting in order to try interpret what is being presented. The juxtapositioning of the men blurs the boundaries between the ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’, as you would expect to see buildings and men in bowler hats but you don’t expect to see them floating/falling from the sky. This relates to my idea as I plan to have falling objects that users can interact with by obstructing them from falling. From looking at this painting, I have decided that I will experiment with different objects/figures that I could use and what would be best to create this surreal effect.

The concept of surrealism and the juxtaposition of objects/images relates to my idea as the user will be captured on the screen along with various falling objects. Likewise to Magrittes’ work, it makes the users more attentive as it encourages them to explore deeper into what is being represented on the screen. It also helps to appeal viewers in as the paintings are unusual compared to most artworks, which I believe makes them more unique and memorable. Linking this to my idea, I feel that users would typically expect to just see themselves being captured on camera, however, their perceptions of reality may become blurred due to the addition of the unexpected objects. The addition of the objects on the screen blurs this idea relating to the ‘real’ and ‘imagination’ and the fact it is interactive could in fact enhance this surreal idea. I feel that incorporating my piece to the concept of surrealism is a good way to engage users as it encourages them to explore the text deeper in order to fully understand what is being represented.

Carrying out previous requirements gathering on my target audience has made me realise the complexity of contemporary audiences and getting users to decode the concept of my piece (surrealism) may be challenging. As Hermes (2002, p.285) states:

‘the meaning of a text is always subject to negotiation.’

Some may decode the surreal concept, whereas others may decode other varied meanings and concepts from interacting with my piece. Liebes (2005, p.363) suggest that:

‘the dominant paradigm has shifted from audiences as users of texts to the process of reception, based on the idea that viewers are capable of creating a plurality of meanings, and allowing for the possibility of oppositional, or subversive decodings’

hypoanimContemporary audiences are more active consumers of texts, rather than the outdated idea of passive audiences, related to the hypodermic needle theory (1920s). Due to my target audience being mainly Media School students, I feel that a range of meanings and concepts may be decoded from my piece – dependant on many factors including the individuals experiences, course, level of interaction etc.


Hermes, J, 2002. Active Audiences. In: The Media: An Introduction By Briggs And Cobley. 2ed, 282- 293. Harlow: Longman.

Liebes, T, 2005. Viewing and Reviewing the Audience: Fashions in Communication Research. In: Curran, J and Gurevitch, M eds. Mass Media and Society. 4th edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 356-374., 2009. Rene Magritte And His Paintings [online]. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2014]., 2009. The Son Of Man, 1946 By Rene Magritte [online]. Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2014].


Introduction to Media Concepts

In todays lecture, we looked at multiple different concepts to consider for our interactive piece. Here are a few that stood out to me:

  • 7102_palimpsestPalimpsest – ‘a manuscript is written on parchment that has another text written over it, leaving two (or more) layers of visible writing’. This idea of layers could be an idea for my piece. I could take an image of the public space every 5 minutes or so and process it so the images overlap each other, creating various layers of images. As more images are taken the previous ones would be barely visible, with the opacity slightly decreasing each time. This could apply to the concept of history as it links back to features of historical manuscripts. It could also relate to representation, as each image will present different people and the representation of previous images will become blurred when newer images are layered on top of it.
  • 4956_0304_roughtradeRough Trade – Each time customers walk into this music store, they enter a photo booth, the photos are then put up on the walls of the store, thus creating a collage of images of their customers. I quite like this idea of creating an abstract collage, and relating this to my project, I could take images of people in the public space and then process them all to randomly display on the boards. This could again link to the concept of representation as well as linking to the concept of active audiences, as it is the audience in this instance that help to create the piece.

I will go on to develop these ideas and will show this development on my blog, as well as thinking of and experimenting with new ideas. Once I have an idea, I will then go on to create a prototype of which I will get peers to engage with and give feedback. By creating a prototype, it will enable me to see if the prototype is successful and suggested improvements that could be made, hence this will follow the iterative design process, as it relates back to users and allows room for further refinements and improvements.


Folksonomy, 2005. Palimpsest: Scraped Again. UK: Folksonomy. Available from: [Accessed 30 October 2014].

Folksonomy, 2013. Rough Trade: Destination Store Plugged-In To What Its Customers Want”. UK: Folksonomy, Available from [Accessed 30 October 2014].