Back To Schedule
Saturday, November 3 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
7.C. Non-Ocular Senses

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

PANEL. Non-Ocular Senses

"Primat de la matière: Materializing Space and Time in Surrealist Photographic Techniques"
Sarah Kislingbury
Princeton University

Diverging from the semiotic and psychological readings of Surrealist photography, this paper looks to provide an analysis of the conceptions of space, time and light as they appear in select articles and photographs published in Minotaure. In reading contributions by Pierre Mabille, Tériade, Oscar Dominguez and André Breton, I show how Einsteinian and Bachelardian concepts were taken up by the Surrealist writers and made manifest through specific photographic techniques such as solorization and the blur. From Man Ray’s Explosante fixe to the Ubac’s photographic equivalent of the “lithochronic surface,” these photographic techniques allowed for the visualization of a petrified temporality and a conception of space as the material flesh in which latent forms reside. Protoplasmic and fertile, space and time opened new poetic possibilities which, like the flea markets in Breton’s L’Amour Fou, ushered in “la communication mysterieuse” through which visible and invisible realities were able to unite. Capable of rendering these invisible phenomena visible, photography became a central force in the dissemination not only of Surrealist aesthetics but also underscored scientific theories central to the group’s project. Further, as this paper will show, the material potentiality of space and time proposed in Surrealist articles and photographic techniques undermined traditional hierarchies and sought to rethink the limits between Man and Object, Mind and Matter.

“Bataille, Carrington and Colquhoun, or the Biopolitics of Visceral Surrealism”
Walter Kalaidjian
Emory University

In the critical reception of Leonora Carrington and Ithell Colquhoun, these two notable feminist surrealists have tended to be aligned with André Breton and, in particular, his 1929 turn to spiritualism, alchemy, and the occult in the Second Manifesto. In it, Breton inveighed against Georges Bataille’s materialist aesthetics and famously declared, “I ASK FOR THE PROFOUND, THE VERITABLE OCCULTATION OF SURREALISM.” Adopting the mantle of Symbolism and Romanticism, Breton’s aesthetic idealism was thereby set in opposition to Bataille’s emphasis on eroticism, sexual abjection, and a more visceral, materialist aesthetic in essays such as “The Solar Anus,” “The ‘Lugubrious Game’,” “The Pineal Eye,” and “The Jesuve,” among others from 1927-1939. Because Carrington and Colquhoun met and associated with Breton in Paris and elsewhere, and because they were both occult practitioners whose signature paintings and prose are steeped in spiritualism, theosophy, and myth, the critical tendency has been to align their surrealist aesthetics with Breton’s declarations of the Second Manifesto. Extending my recent scholarship presented at the 2017 MSA and 2018 Ithell Colquhoun international symposium, this original paper on Bataille, Carrington, and Colquhoun suggests new directions for critical approaches to Carrington and Colquhoun by rereading works such as Colquhoun’s I Saw Water and Carrington’s selected short stories through Bataille rather than Breton, thereby recovering the tension in their oeuvres between the idealism of spiritual theosophy vs. a more materialist declension of the flesh: one grounded in the immediacy of erotic transgression, sex magic, and the communal biopolitics of hybrid corporeality.

"Surrealism, Marine Life and Non-Ocular Modes of Sensing"
Christy Heflin
Royal Holloway University of London 

The obsessive representation of and violence against the eye is inescapable in Surrealist art, with works like Buñuel and Dalí’s Un Chien andalou and Bataille’s Histoire de l’oeil being the most renowned for their depictions of acts of ocular defilement. Over the years scholars like Martin Jay have questioned these artists’ intentions and have even gone so far as to position them as anti-ocular. Compromising the physical integrity of the eye is not necessarily an outright rejection of vision. Instead, it questions the hierarchy of the senses. The use of marine animals in Surrealist art seen in works by Jean Painlevé, Eileen Agar and Man Ray represents beings which rely on other modes of sensing, thus navigating their worlds without the visual primacy. I argue these artists are not anti-ocular but anti-ocularcentristic. Reflecting on Surrealist art featuring marine life, this paper also considers research from popular science journals that show advances in marine biology during the 1920s and 1930s that may have been read by the artists. Similar investigations by scholars such as Linda Dalrymple Henderson and Gavin Parkinson show other Surrealist artists’ interest in physics, mathematics and technology and their direct relation to Surrealist art. Surrealism’s depictions of marine life reflect an interest in alternative sensory regimes and rejects the primacy of vision above other senses, calling into question the position of the human-animal relation. These representations express a desire to move beyond the eye to expand perception in order to explore faculties of perception denied to the human eye.

avatar for Christina Heflin

Christina Heflin

PhD Candidate, Royal Holloway University of London
avatar for Walter Kalaidjian

Walter Kalaidjian

Emory University
avatar for Sarah Kislingbury

Sarah Kislingbury

PhD Candidate, Princeton University


Lindsey Richter

Grace College

Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)