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Three Essays About Massurrealism (International Edition)
by James Seehafer / Michael Morris / Philip Kocsis
English DeutschEspañolFrançaisРусский

 Excerpts from the book:
"...one has to consider additional factors such as the continued progression of the entertainment industry. Movies, music videos and television are a dominant force on World culture and on today's contemporary artists. The components of the advertising industry's strategies, for example: ads, prints, billboards, are designed to entertain as well as capture, lead, and prompt the human psyche....While driven by the mass media [television, movies, music videos, and advertising] massurrealism is created through a cross combination of multiple tools which can include the traditional media [oils, acrylic, classic collage, and classic photography] with the tools of the new and innovative technologies, digital media, digital photography, digital techniques and software. Massurrealism coalesces mass media related art, including but not limited to Pop-Art and surrealism. All of these elements together became the foundation of this art form..." -James Seehafer excerpts
James Seehafer

"...So where have we been in this quick journey? We began with a focus on the outer world, with pictorial reality. Then came the camera to change that focus, and turn the artist inward to explore, in growing steps, the world he found there. Literal reality was swept aside, and the inner world began to dominate art until it seemed to become so individualistic, so personal, that any attempt at communication, at sharing beauty or insight with others, was stopped in its tracks. Then the pendulum began to swing back. Vision was ripped unceremoniously away from inner feelings, and back outside to the harsh realities of hamburgers, coke bottles, and icons of Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn. And here is Massurrealism, dealing with all of this, rejecting none of it, the realities outside, and the visions, emotions and realities inside. We see it in the paintings of such diverse talents as David Hockney, Ron Kitaj and Jennifer Bartlett..." -Michael Morris excerpts
Michael Morris

"...Actuality and reality don’t necessarily need to coincide in the physical realm anymore. L. L. Bean, in actuality, is likely to be a number of large, cold metal warehouses with large open truck bays and hundreds of computers “spitting out” logistics and shipping orders. Is this scenario more real than “my wholesome country store” reality of L. L. Bean, even though I don’t know for sure if these massive fulfillment centers exist? As you can see my “real” is a mass marketing projection of L. L. Bean, most likely a far cry from actuality. Advertisers have taken this perceived reality to the limits, and you buy into it. If you don’t believe me, how much did you pay for a .25 fl oz. bottle of “Obsession” perfume? Ancient mythology, although historically far richer and deeper than ad executives hocking stink water, worked the same way prior to..." -Philip Kocsis excerpts
Philip Kocsis


MASSURREALISM (An excerpt from Wikipedia)

Massurrealism is a portmanteau word coined in 1992 by American artist James Seehafer, who described a trend among some postmodern artists that mix the aesthetic styles and themes of surrealism and mass media including pop art.

History Overview
Massurrealism is a development of surrealism that emphasizes the effect of technology and mass media on contemporary surrealist imagery. James Seehafer who is credited with coining the term in 1992 said that he was prompted to do so because there was no extant definition to accurately characterize the type of work he was doing, which combined elements of surrealism and mass media, the latter consisting of technology and pop art "a form of technology art." He had begun his work by using a shopping cart, which "represented American mass-consumerism that fuels mass-media", and then incorporated collages of colour photocopies and spray paint with the artist's traditional medium of oil paint.

It is difficult to define the visual style of massurrealism, though a general characteristic is the use of modern technology to fuse surrealism's traditional access to the unconscious with pop art's ironic contradictions. In 2005, graffiti artist Banksy illicitly hung a rock in the British Museum showing a caveman pushing a shopping cart, which Shelley Esaak of about.com described as "a nice tribute to James Seehafer and Massurrealism."


Massurrealism brings attention to our living in a world of mass media that profoundly defines us, so much so that we no longer understand what it is doing to us, what we are doing to ourselves, by passively participating in it. Perhaps Neil Postman said it best in his forward to "Amusing Ourselves to Death":

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who would want to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism."

Postman wrote this in 1985. Twenty years later it rings true with an alarming echo that has not diminished with time; rather, it continues growing like a feedback loop that has crossed its containment threshold. By appropriating and re-contextualizing mass media objects, massurrealism points the way out of this loop, whereby we can regain control of the meaning in these objects and, in the process, break the link to the mass media matrix.

Those who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s witnessed the pervading influence of mass media, advertising, the advent of commercial uses for the Web. Professor Mark Daniel Cohen of European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, describes their works as follows: “Massurrealism is a burgeoning art movement in which artists employ the iconography and technologies of the mass media to achieve the principal aim of authentic Surrealism: a transformation of the state of mind of the viewer so as to initiate a perception of the dream-like truth of reality...”

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