Max Ernst (the father of visual SURREALISM) plunders the modern images of graphic prints from the latter half of the nineteenth century and makes ART from collaging them into expressions of his IMAGINATION. Joseph Cornell...what did he do? Creating a context in the post-cinema era in a city inundated by advertizing images and sign posts not to mention the Great White Way of Broadway, in N.Y.C. . Cornell made collages to his "Theater of the Mind" in that Media-Age of the mid twentieth century of mass produced imagery he constructed his grand tour of Europe more fully than the experience those who went on it themselves could experience.
Arranging the "information" of human events such that we may reconstruct the significant moments in MODERN aesthetics such that we all, given the discipline, can partake of 'the' event, and thus these events which make-up the MODERN and can continue to create an AURA and AESTHETIC long after that initial moment is exploited and than moved on, for the next 'moment'. What better way to appreciate the profundity of great MODERN expressions ...but to lift them up out of the momentary; chivalrously save them from being merely exploited by the vultures of profit and coveting and hold them in valued appreciation for another novel moment.
Gerard de Nerval had said in the nineteenth century that MODERN ART is "the overflowing of the dream into reality!" The problem of the MODERN notion is to take something " confusing, infinitely mobile,inappreciable, without season, delicate, and fugitive" without fixing it in a form that is rigid and banal, as Henri Bergson says. E. A. Poe believed one could always do it, "that where difficulty in expression is experienced, there is, in the intellect that experiences it, a want of deliberateness or method." As if the purity, "the white light" of the poetically eternal poetical licensed metaphors can and should and shall rise above the sallied and discarded notions of the uncommitted in province of thought and aesthetic. As if by argument with evidence in appearance, by showing through plastic meanings the evidence that beauty was here, a Joseph Cornell argues that beauty is still here. Once ignited in the SOUL, it is the "will" of those who have experienced it which hold onto it and empower it, than also the weakness and baseness of those who reject and throw it away! It is the sensitivity of this type of mind (Cornell's) who grew up admiring ballet, opera, and cinema; where the extention to express himself in film and montages seemed utterly appropriate. Cornell saw Max Ernst's photomontages at the Julien Levy Gallery in N.Y.C. and was inspired by the expatriot Parisian Duchamp who spent periods in the New York Dada camp. The total bizarreness of living in the largest city in America of the time yet the overwhelming feelings of being trapped in the small cages of tenement park living is of the most ironic realities in the absurdist MODERN consciousness. As well the power of polarities in paradox and physical realities lends itself to our human condition in a world of facades and the business world which collapses like a proverbial 'House of Cards.'
Thus in this Wonderland in Alices ' Head; we confront the absurdity of the only visual contribution to the Visual ARTS, from America, cinema. Always contending to be a FINE ART as it is deeply embroiled in commercialism and the advertizing which subsidizes cinema and the famous organized mafia which no one appears to object to...American Culture more often than not is a compromise of mixed agenda's and desperate meanings. Yet it manifests very brilliant imagery and metaphorical statements which cause one to keep looking, and indeed to search for that illusive content: meaning. This doesn't necessarily happen, and in fact is more likely to merely trick our sensibilities for ongoing eye candy. This phenomenon has produced the utterly pathetic syndrome of such "EYE CANDY" in the place of anything significant which connotes the most worthless and often debasing visual make-up but the advertisers have found that to be continuously eye catching pacifies and lowers the resistance of the audience. The result is always mindless if not degrading and is one more aspect of a Culture shameless in over indulgence and numbed to the effects of its own over-exploitation of everything and anything.
Then we still look back to the Golden Age of Cinema where much of the easy virtue and visual allure began. We continue to see the innocence in between the prostitution and blatant exploitation. There was a serene beauty and a courageous beautiful stance of early cinema. Alas, how power always corrupts and childish convenience without substance debases. What if we began seriously reviewing these soothingly raped images and regained it's values and VIRTUES ? There was a time, at the beginning of the MODERN, even before the Industrial Revolution, after the beheading of King Charles and the English Civil War when a whole movement in philosophy was based on VIRTUE. John Ashley COOPER effected the Scottish school of Hutcheson and David HUME, then the next generation of men like Benjamin Franklin who grasped the Universal powers that began connecting all the hidden physical forces such as the current of electricity, then the gravitational force, and the spectrums of light; J. A. COOPER had wrote in enthusiastic revelation :
"If the knowing well how to expose any infirmity or vice
were a sufficient security for the VIRTUE which is con-
trary, how excellent an age might we be presumed to live in.."