Sunday, 12 January 2014

Soundscape Keyframe: The Elephant Celebes by Max Ernst

The Elephant Celebes was painted in 1921 by surrealist visionary Max Ernst. The scene is described as “the encounter of two or more unrelated realities,” and “the spark of poetry created by the proximity.” (Ingo F. & Suckale, 2002). The word “Celebes” derives from the name of an Indonesian island; however Ernst claims to have dissected the word from a sexually suggestive German rhyme.

The primary focus of the scene revolves around the metallic elephant which dominates the vast majority of the canvas. Other points of interest include the female torso and the “flying fish”, which suggest that the scene could possibly be set underwater. The lackadaisical hand gesture of the mannequin woman suggests that we are being presented with an extraordinary being, which essentially is the case in this other-worldly scenario. With the black spiralling smog in the background looking as it does like a nose-diving aircraft, themes of technological destruction begin to emerge (particularly in addition to the behemoth elephant-machine.)

My first impressions of the painting formulate ideas of factory and deep-sea audio clips, intertwined with wailings of despair and grandeur trailing off from the foreground. 

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