Photography for Artists & Designers

Art & Design 265: Project


Project: Surrealist Composite

Week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Schedule


Goals & Concept 

Most every culture attributes some meaning to dreams, and thus interprets dreams somehow. Ever since Sigmund Freud published his ideas on dream analysis, artists and cinematographers have conceived and created dreamscapes that evoke the peculiar logic and apparent illogic typical of our subconscious expressions.

Surrealist Photos — a Google search | Surrealist Photographer Dream Recreations |
HongKiat Surreal | PSDFanExtra Surreal | TutsPlus Surreal |

In painting the masters of the original generation of Surrealists include Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico and Joan Miro. Dali's paintings are often described as dreamscapes, as can Magritte's and certainly de Chirico's.
Long before Freud's psychoanalysis, Northern Renaissance painter Hieronymous Bosch created compelling, and often disturbing, dreamlike images of heaven and, particularly, hell. They are among the most fully nightmarish images in the Western canon.
In the 19th c. William Blake's imagery often alludes to dream contexts and spiritual visions.
In photography ....

Method/Process: Use multi-image compositing tactics to create a tryptich of images that present a surrealist interior or landscape. 

Goal:  explore a fantasy scene which has its own logic and order.  Work to exploit Photoshop compositing tactics (e.g. layers and masks) to implement your image.  Work through the creative process of planning an imaginary scene that must be built with separate images.
[note: this might be an interesting place to introduce a panorama... we might require that this be a very high res image that can be magnified for viewing details.  We might even require that it be an image that establishes one conception from a comfortable viewing distance, but discloses many interesting details upon close inspection...  Where’s Waldo?   Hieronymous Bosch?]

You might base your dreamscape on one or more of your actual dreams... or you might create your consciously imagined dreamscape.  Consider what your dream represents.  This will likely be speculation, but ponder what the settings, characters, objects and events within the dream might mean -- what is your dream trying to tell you? 

Consider the symbolism of your dreamscape.  Make notes on the meaning of each feature in your scene.

Sketch various ways of arranging your image. 

Think about the lighting and point of view needed for each object.

You may use found images for up to ¼ of your composite image.  The rest of the image should be photographed by you. Provide references for the sources of any borrowed imagery.

What can an image mean?

Every culture has a paradigm of dream, dream sources and dream interpretation.

Think about what you believe dreams are capable of revealing. You might build an image series on a dream of your own. You might imagine a message to yourself from your wise subconscious — what the point might be, and how might that message might be represented in symbols and metaphors?

Explore the logic of your dreamscape. Freud asserts that dreams are a means of our subconscious mind attempting to communicate with our conscious mind — it is as though we are trying to tell ourselves what we need to know to move forward, to resolve personal issues, to prepare for our future.

Explore a system of meaningful symbols and signs within an initially non-logical arrangement.


The Short Version

Create a unified three-image set —  a trypich — that conveys a dreamscape with a symbol-rich message.

Explore a fantasy scene which has its own logic and order. 
Work to exploit Photoshop compositing tactics (e.g. layers and masks) to implement your image. 
Work through the creative process of planning an imaginary scene that must be built with separate images.

Use Photoshop multi-layer compositing techniques to create a visual coherence and consistency among the images.

Develop a clear content concept in writing, prior to shooting and editing.

Sketch a clear graphic concept prior to shooting and editing.


Explain and document the technique(s) used to create the image.




— Upload to Google+ into “011 Surrealist Composite” folder.  Drag that into your Art 265 circle.

— Describe the traits that unify this set of images.  Write a short (25-75 words) concept statement that describes the visual traits or ideas that this set of images emphasizes.

— Include an artist's statement presenting the content concept, process concept and/or impact concept that you were working with.

— Review and comment* on the photos uploaded by at least 7 other students before class.
* Provide relevant comments (25+ more words) discussing what you see in the photos presented -- comment particularly on what impresses you or what catches your eye.  Comment on what you think might improve the cropping or editing of the presented photos.


By Tuesday, 8am

Shoot at least 90 images.
Select (at least) 20 of those for editing.
Use at least 7 of those images in the 3 composite images that make up your G+ presentation as a theme-unified series.

Downsize images to 2Mpix JPGs before upload.

Post to G+ :
Project Photo Album: 011_SurrealistComposite

Album: Edited (20+ individual images)
Album: Final Series (3 compositeimages)

Write an artists statement for the final series.
— Discuss whatever theme or emphases you discovered. You might describe what you found as you surveyed your images in Bridge. What surprised you? How did your direction change as you went?

Write critical comments about the final series images:
— Discuss the strengths of the final images in relation to that theme.


Thursday, before Class

Crit your Peers:
Go to G+ and review what your classmates have uploaded.

For each classmate, go to their newest album.

Add comments to at least one image, or to the series as a whole.
Discuss ways in which the series is formally unified — what traits tie the separate images together?
How compositionally successful are the images? What is interesting about them?



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