Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
This thesis aims to define, observe and create a feeling of surrealism through a series of design gestures. The process began with a question: If I, as a designer, immerse myself in a subculture that I have no interest in, will I become a fan of it? To attempt this, I created systems and tools to deeply investigate each subculture. I observed and recorded what I experienced. As a case study, the haunted attraction community captured my attention. I went to their conventions and took classes in the crafts of “the haunt.” While immersed in this community, I started to see things that felt accidentally strange. Even in a subculture with intentionally spooky aesthetics, there was another kind of non-intentional surrealism.
After discovering this “casual surrealism,” I studied its formal mechanics, and I wanted to know if I could recreate it. I played the role of a perverse spectator of both the subcultures that I experienced and of graphic design itself. In some projects, I reduced my work to caricature, making a cartoon of the concept as well as the appearance. Other projects used loose associations played out to their logical ends. I tried to portray something that just doesn’t seem right in its most perfect and precise manner.
Identifying casual surrealism creates friction between the feeling of enjoyment and the awareness of judgment. Through the combination of confusion and recognition, casual surrealism reignites curiosity in spaces where observation has become ritualized. Does this thesis simply observe casual surrealism? Or are there places where I have created this specific uncanny feeling?
Buzzell, Cara, "Haunt : casual surrealism" (2018). Masters Theses. 215.
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