office of surrealist investigations

Manipulating Chance



the office is getting an office! *office may not appear as pictured

Marlowe office

You may remember this image from an earlier post that I’m too lazy to link to.OSI card The point being that the office of surrealist investigations is getting a physical office space… at least temporarily. From June 5 to July 11 of this year, the office of surrealist investigations will be open for business at Arnica Artist Run Centre. It will have 2 rooms, a main office and a funky vault space and I have a lot of goings-on planned for both spaces and projects on the go in the lead up to the opening, including a couple of projects on the go that I hope a few of you will join in on and even more of you will take part in over the duration of the exhibition. More on that in another post (likely the next post). The office space deals with a lot of things that started this blogspot in the first place. Basically, the office of surrealist investigations spawned from an interest in drawing games, particularly the exquisite corpse, and an odd book I found linking the Black Dahlia murder of the 1940s to the surrealists.

EXcorpse bookI don’t know how much truth there is to this book, but it is an interesting read, and if you have any conspiracy theorist in you (which I have very little), you may find it fascinating. If not, then you might find it humourous or crazy. I’m particularly curious about the mention of Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp’s Etant Donnes and Elizabeth Short’s corpse and the use of the corpse throughout Surreal and Dada work.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details of the Black Dahlia murder and by no means do I encourage you to watch the even more gruesomely put together movie of recent years. I will, however, encourage you to pick up James Ellroy’s book The Black DahliaPictured below is Duchamp’s Etant Donnes translated as the waterfall or the illuminating gas. I’ve seen this work in person and it is a three dimensional work viewable only through a pair of peep holes like those found in a door.


The intrigue lies in the the instructions of Marcel Duchamp regarding this work. Etant Donnes was not unveiled to the public until 1969, a year after his death. That is the very short version for the intrigue, but it is odd how long this work was kept secret unseen until after his death. The pose recalls the pose of the Black Dahlia Murder. Theory that murder emulates ideas of exquisite corpse and dismemberment seen in earlier surrealist/dada works. Being that I have been interested in Surrealist practices such as automatism and drawing games as well as film noir, hard-boiled fiction, drawing in general, comix and narrative, these things all come together within the practices of the office. Mainly, I liked taking the idea of the exquisite corpse and turning it into a multi-authored narrative. At first, linear like the narrative corpse project I got started and borrowed from Art Spiegelman, but changes had to be made. I felt his format revealed too much and was a little too rigid and limited to one medium. Eventually I wanted to get rid of any continuity with character and make the jumps form panel to panel more open. This of course, depends on who is drawing, responding, passing it along. These are the basics of the project, and this is also the point where I want to get more people involved, so stay tuned for an upcoming post for more on this and how to get involved in the narrative.

Corpse Forty-one: In Advance of the Broken Arm

Corpse 41It’s not often I title these exquisite corpse drawings nor will it become a habit, but I felt a little more inspired with this one. As you probably don’t know, I consider myself a big baseball fan and I have been researching a project regarding Duchamp’s ready-made In Advance of the Broken Arm. What comes to mind for me is pitching mechanics and the recent shut down of Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals. Formerly my beloved Montreal Expos, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be a Nationals fan.  His arm action has been the subject of scout analysis for a while now, mostly in an unfavourable light. The crux (not to be confused with Kruk) of his arm trouble seems to be the inverted “W” rather than the action inferred by the ready-made snow shovel of Duchamp. There is some difference in opinion on this, however it makes for interesting reading, if things like pitching mechanics, Tommy John and various ligament and rotator cuff surgeries spark your interest. All this to bring me to this corpse, that was done a while back and contained both a reference to Duchamp’s ready-made and what appears to be a televised MMA bout. Thoughts of this remind of my MMA junkie friends and the techniques required for arm bars, kimoras and that rather ugly episode in UFC 140 involving Frank Mir and Big Nog. All clear? Ready-made to baseball to mma to exquisite corpse. All comes together nicely if you ask me. Well, except for the Big Nog incident, which if you haven’t checked out already is a little gruesome.

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