AI Art Shop: Surreal Beauty, 2021, dimensions variable, digital file.COURTESY AI ART SHOP, LONDON
In the origin story for Surrealism that André Breton provides in his 1924 manifesto, he claims that “a rather strange phrase” came to him in the hypnagogic state before sleep: “There is a man cut in two by the window.” Easy as it is to link the phrase with Surrealism’s preoccupation with transgressing binaries and seeking passages between life’s apparently divided aspects (what if dreams are real and reality a dream?), Breton seems to ignore the phrase’s substance to fixate on the means of its arrival:
I realized I was dealing with an image of a fairly rare sort, and all I could think of was to incorporate it into my material for poetic construction. No sooner had I granted it this capacity than it was in fact succeeded by a whole series of phrases, with only brief pauses between them, which surprised me only slightly less and left me with the impression of their being so gratuitous that the control I had then exercised upon myself seemed to me illusory and all I could think of was putting an end to the interminable quarrel raging within me.