Agency and automatism: some strategies of irresponsibility in architecture
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.