During this period, he became acquainted with their automatist
techniques which, both in poetry and painting, are based on the free association of images and ideas.
He argued for "contact between the discamate mind and the brain of the automatist
...." (Myers, 1903, p.
Mediumship, psychical research, dissociation, and the powers of the subconscious mind/ Medialitat, psychische forschung, dissoziation und die krafte der unterbewussten psyche/ Mediumnidad, investigacion psiquica, disociacion, y poderes de la mente subconsciente/ Mediumnite, recherche psychique, dissociation, et les pouvoirs de l'esprit subconscient
(1) "Borduas and the Automatist
Epic" opened at the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal on May 9, 1998 and remains on view through November 29.
Although Jamie has long insisted that his "drawings have always been rendered automatically," his reliance on procedures of layering and erasure marks his distance from the automatist
legacy of Surrealism, a movement toward which he expresses a certain aversion, although that has not stopped critics from interpreting his latest work through this lens.
While Myers thought that the medium could produce veridical information unknown to her, he did not think it possible for a medium to produce "mathematical formulae or Chinese sentences, if the automatist
is ignorant of mathematics or of Chinese" (Vol.
This part of the show concluded with a concise selection of automatist
works by Surrealists Robert Desnos, Andre Masson, Yves Tanguy, and Breton's paramour and muse Nadia.
That is not to say that Masson's early works, such as Le Reve du prisonnier (The Dream of the reisoner), 1924, solely manifest the automatist
methods of the day; quite to the contrary, the painting is sober, self-consciously hieratic, with a sibylline mixture of allegorical figure, disdain for color, and a studious synthetic cubism (a mode the Surrealists were at pains to overthrow for its by-then marked aestheticism and decorative complacency).
In the 1990s, this practice was reflexively attuned to the institutional context (Fred Wilson, Mark Dion), but in the past decade it has taken a more automatist
form, subordinating legible or didactic connections between works to the imperative of individual sensibility, as for example in Mark Wallinger's "The Russian Linesman" (2009), Vik Muniz's "Rebus" (2009), or Grayson Perry's phenomenally popular "The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman" (2011).
Resembling spectral visages materializing from smoke, these faces convey a sense of contingency that arises in part from the drawings' beginnings as automatist