13 Pages

Agency and automatism: some strategies of irresponsibility in architecture

ByMichael Chapman

In the interstitial period in Paris between the fiery collapse of Dada and the official

emergence of Breton’s Surrealism several years later, the major proponents of the

defunct Dada movement immersed themselves in a range of notorious experiments all

aimed at aligning themselves with the sensation of psychic automatism and the ravag-

ing spirit of the then fashionable Freudian unconscious. Generating a range of intellec-

tual games, psychoanalytical procedures and drug-induced experimental states, this

turbulent and highly creative period laid the theoretical framework for the radical cul-

ture of Surrealism and was instrumental in the creation of some of its most iconic early

artworks and novels. Most famous amongst these was the game of the exquisite

corpse where authorial control was challenged and even undermined by its blind and

random dispersion amongst a number of disconnected bodies in both time and space.

It was partially through these experiments that issues regarding agency and authorship

in art were first problematised.