Many believe that all artists have a heightened sense of pareidolia. For centuries artists have been using this technique for creating artwork. Although the term “Pareidolia” has only been around since 1994, there have been many terms coined over the years that sought to define pareidolia. Many of the definitions can bias either towards “chance/random or destiny/divinely ordained” (Abstract Extractionism). In 1754, the term serendipity was invented by Horace Walpole, meaning a happy accident”. Throughout history the terms evolved to better describe this phenomenon- 1785, Cozen’s New Method; 1875-1961, Car Jung’s Synchronicity; 1930’s, Dali’s Parnoiac Critical Method; and in 1958, Klaus Conrad’s Apopheni. All of the definitions mean basically the same thing, each with their own bias, whether it be bias towards a state of mind, or bias to the self. Leonardo Da Vinci was a strong believer of pareidolia, as he states in his journal: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see divers combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well conceived forms” (John R.). In the contemporary art world artists that take part in this process are now considered Extractionists (term dated in 2000) or Abstract Extractionists (2005). Salvador Dali believed the paranoiac-critical method to play a key role in the creation of surrealism. Dali saw this process as an extension of the self and aimed for “systematic confusion”, which sought to create a new order, taking unrelated elements from the external reality to create a space that is uniquely his own. Dali states that “The moment is at hand when, by a process of a paranoiac and active character, it is possible to systematize confusion and thus help to discredit completely the world of reality” (Finkelstein 60). He believes this is the absolute best way to hone in his skills of illuminated delusion, as he so boldly states in the first issue of Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution that the concept of paranoiac critical is “the most precise and comprehensive statement of purpose with regards to paranoiac process” (Finkelstein 60) Max Ernst did not believe this was the best method of extraction. He instead believed the best method of practical application lay within frottage- a technique developed by Ernst in which the artist creates a rubbing over a textured surface. It can be left as is, or is used as the basis for further refinement (Finkelstein 59).
"Abstract Extractionism ." www.pareidolia.us. N.p.. Web. 6 Nov 2012. <http://www.abstractextractionism.com/>.
Finkelstein, Haim. "Dali's Paranoia-Criticism Or The Exercise Of Freedom." Twentieth Century Literature 21.1 (1975): 59.Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Nov. 2012.
Leitner Studios Blog
Author: Justin Leitner
Fine Artist/ Freelance Graphic Designer/ Instructor