Surrealism and the Fantastic

"I don't do drugs. I am drugs."  -  Salvador Dalí

                     Surreal Reel


This is a compilation of clips from various films and videos I have made through the years.  The music was inspired by the soundtracks of Bernard Herrmann (Hitchcock to Harryhausen) and composed in collaboration with John Steiner, featuring a freestyle piano improve by John.  One of the things I like about Surrealism is that you can dip into very personal places within yourself and when others see these things from the imagination, they too dip into their own personal places. 


While at a telecine (video to film) lab in Los Angeles, the controller who was doing the transfer for the footage of one of my films saw the image of the ground bursting open and he suddenly had a flashback and told me of a memory he had as a child - being in his back yard and the ground opened up, just like in my footage, and a little man popped up and greeted him and told him not to tell anyone else he had seen him. He, of course ran inside his house and told his grandmother.  He never did see that little man again.  He told me that he had forgotten about this for many years and I may have been the first person he had ever talked to about this besides his grandmother.  "This is the power of surreal imagery." I thought.


A dream story, with shape-shifters, strange apparitions, featuring masks, puppets and original music.  Further reveries of Señor Alfred Hufroin, a character I developed.  Part of this video was inspired by a dream that I had.  The dream contained a brochure that I received which seemed to be telling me that I live on an incredible planet with wonderful life forms, however I recognized the planet as Earth, but when I remembered that the Earth is a planet I was pulled up into the sky and started hovering over a running herd of giraffes somewhere in the African savannah.  I was suddenly thrilled by the reality of our own place in the universe.

The Garden Trickster

                          Fantomas  (silent)


This film reflects my interests in referring to the fine arts for imagery, particularly the paintings of the Belgian Surrealist Rene Magritte in this case.  In school I was introduced to the work of Maya Deren, (still a favorite of mine), and decided to make images that hinted at story but served mostly as a way to evoke those personal places of dreams and nightmares.  As a child I would have fevers and would often be haunted by intense nightmares and hallucinations.  Also, one of my oldest brother's was epileptic and had grand mall seizures.  He would tell me about strange images and intense thoughts that would fill his mind.  It would remind me of my hallucinatory states during fevers.  The most frightening fantasy, I remember as a child, was being alone in the house, opening a curtain and suddenly seeing a strange face in the window looking in. 


I remember wanting to tap into a primal something I felt stirring in me as a young adult.  Wild and unbridled forces of nature and spirit and consciousness moving through space and time releasing all types of demons and nightmarish reveries while remaining still in the mind at the same time conjuring up energy of consciousness.  It was about all this, but it was mostly about following creative impulses.  It would be years later that I made the connection between Surrealism and emotional healing.  The early Surrealists became fascinated by the unconscious mind and the work of people like Sigmund Freud who wrote about how people are compelled by unconscious fears and desires.  Dreams were a direct way of understanding the unconscious.  While making films like this I realized eventually that film making, when following unconscious impulses is much like the stuff of dreams and can be read as such.  This insight led me to an interest in psychology. Eventually certain crucial memories from my childhood had surfaced and revealed themselves, leading me onto a path of emotional healing that had changed my life forever.







This is an early drawing style of mine with the subject of the surreal and the fantastic.  Much of the imagery is embued with a feeling of symbolism and story yet I didn't know those stories or the meaning of the symbols.  I was a fan of the work of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel and did not fathom the meaning of their paintings yet read them as I would a surrealist artwork.  In my work I wanted the viewer to be simply mystified by these worlds yet wonder the intentions of the artist, whose vision was at once chaotic and nightmarish yet orderly and harmonious at the same time.  It's a balance than runs through much of my work today. 

© 2013 by Alfred Hernandez