The Anatomically Quirky Side of Tumblr

By Phi Tran 

The closest thing to cheap visual tricks I consume lies in single-topic Tumblr sites wittily crafted with amateur Photoshop skills. I say witty because it’s a form of pop surrealism that is rather ingenious.

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” —Salvador Dali

Pokemon x Nicolas Cage

The Exquisite Corpse

There was an old parlor game that the surrealists invented called Consequences. They would start with some written words on a piece of paper, fold it to hide the content, and pass it to the next participant to add to. Eventually they decided that this game would be fun with images so they began creating images in this manner. The game evolved to be a type of drawing collage collage – the result of which was named after a phrase from the first time the game was played, “The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”

“To be a surrealist . . . means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been.” —Rene Magritte

The evolution of the human anatomy on Tumblr is like a living Exquisite Corpse: it’s manipulated, shared, changed, and manipulated again ad infinitum. It’s a bird with human arms and humans with horse heads in as many combinations as one can possibly imagine.

Birds with Arms

Horse Mask

Surrealism is a kind of mind-game that relies on a schism with reality as a way to deal with it.

“Surrealism, then, neither aims to subvert realism, as does the fantastic, nor does it try to transcend it. It looks for different means by which to explore reality itself.” – Michael Richardson

What is reality but a palette for manipulation – pieces that can be dissected, modified, and reconfigured in new and more interesting ways in order to reveal the inherent quality of the original object. The new body is re-imagined, sometimes grotesque, unfamiliar but at times liberating in its dismemberment.

Lindsay No Hands

One Tiny Hand

Actresses without Teeth

Edith with Googly Eyes

The true strength of Tumblr’s single topic blog lies in the rigor of themes. These themes frame the artistic intentions that are then recreated by strangers sharing and observing within the virtual medium and gallery of the internet.

“To behold something more than life, one must scoop out the eye* of plausibility with a spoon. Join the born fakes of surrealism eating the cornflakes of cerealism.” – Bauvard

*Perhaps Bauvard would appreciate googly eyes rather than the eyes of plausibility.

Adele as Mrs. Doubtfire

Tumblr is like a modern Salon where conversations are replaced by Photoshop layers. It’s here where conversations about reality are disguised by slightly modifying the real. It’s here where the body and the knife are welcomed as creative commodities. It’s here where a saturation of irony in art is appreciated and not shunned. It’s here where you can find Mrs. Doubtfire and Adele as one.