Friday, June 20, 2014

Randomly Generated Surrealism

~Sein und Werden~
Summer 2014 issue

This issue's theme revolved around an Internet oracle called the random surrealism generator. Contributors could write anything they wanted, as long as the title came from this source.

Go ahead, click the link. Reload the page a few times. Let it sink in a moment.

You get it, right? Unusually long, nonsensical phrases, at times opaque, at times unintentionally hilarious. Seriously, what would you create if it had to be titled, "Is it true that you can play scrabble against fluff-covered black puddings? Surely it's a recipe for disaster, or at least farce.

What actually developed is a sublime collection of eerie and evocative material.

Certainly, all the stories, poetry and artwork in the Summer 2014 issue dive headfirst into the surreal, but the collection encompasses disparate genres from humor to horror, and each of the authors took the challenge seriously despite the absurd source of inspiration.

Imagine working with the title "DO NOT LEAVE IT IS NOT EMPTY!" Russ Bickerstaff drew this lot and in return delved into a world turned inside out by inquisitive toddlers, where everything is somewhere else, but the important question is, why do you avoid being a child? Rachel Rodman was saddled with the ominous phrase, "ATTENTION TAPEWORMS! You are pigs. Nothing but statuesque pigs. You think you're Tibetan, but you're not." I shudder to think what would have come from my brain if I fed it that title, but Rodman delivered a concept of the cyclical of life and death mutated by the alchemical power of spoken word, and also made me identify with tapeworms (as characters, of course). Michael Prihoda deftly donned the black mascara when he penned "I want to apply Goth make-up to your fax machine until it's frigid," a moody poem that (emotively) returned me straight to a telemarketing job I took under duress in the 90s.

The artwork includes crafty interpretations of the surrealism generator's wisdom such as, "Is that a tarpon outside your window or are you a Venusian," Rick Hutchinson's delightful portrait or a doubly masked alien (and the titular tarpon), and Alan M. Clark's irridescent "Don't manhadle me! Not with that rhythmical Sony walkman! Use the violent web!" which is full of textures reminiscent of wings and abalone shells. 

After reading this, you must think Summer 2014 has got to be the most madcap issue of Sein und Werden ever, but it's far from zany. It's as if the contributors took all the crazy they found in the titles and bent it to their will, creating work that is simultaneously cohesive and uncanny and eloquent and well worth the read.

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