Easy Reading: Childhood Game

GMA 3946

We all know the game where we start a drawing, hide what we have drawn and let someone else continue the picture. Not many people know that its actual name is “The Exquisite Corpse” and it was invented by surrealists in the 30’s, pioneered by André Breton. The concept of this mere childhood game is a lot broader than it initially seems.

When I was a child, the exquisite corpse was played to both entertain and to break the ice in classroom settings. In one sense you could say that this game attempted to fill the void of loneliness. Also, the segments of each drawing can be analysed from a psychological stand point to try and gain insights into who a person is. A logical progression could show signs of an intelligent person; an elaborate progression would show a creative mind ; an innappropriate progression could show signs of an immature mind. If each part of the drawing can tell us a lot about an individual player then the exquisite corpse is a gateway to knowing someone, filling the void of the absence of knowledge.

There are many perspectives taken on the theory of the exquisite corpse. The Steve Sandvoss film, “The Exquisite Corpse” and the famous novel “Frankenstein” demonstrates filling the void of companionship. Frankenstein’s monster was constructed to remove the pangs of loneliness, though it did not work too well in his favour. In the Sandvoss film, multiple women are harvested in order to save one life, curing death, filling the void, once again, of loneliness and to eradicate the feelings of the loss of a loved one.

In the movie “The Exquisite Corpse Project” the concept of the exquisite corpse was taken to a written form, in order to bring a group of friends together for one last time. The concept was used to mask, for just a few moments, the fact that they will all soon be dispersed and will inevitably be lonely without their close companions near. Each section scripted by each individual, can be psychoanalysed, each segment represents each person and shows that there is quite a contrast in everyone’s writing style. This could possibly be a metaphor for psychological distancing between each character as their inevitability of leaving each other becomes more real.

The anthropmorphising and personifying of the exquisite corpse is a matter of life. The international film project of the exquisite corpse brought people together for one common finality just like the process of farming and produce selling. Someone will plant the food, but it takes many people and stages before that food can be eaten after being bought. This process would be for the inevitable filling of the void of hunger.

In applying the exquisite corpse concept to the bigger picture, life is what it is all about. Life is made up of segments and the final outcome of each set of segments will fill some sort of void.

How I Think About: Just A Childhood Game

“The Exquisite Corpse”, as highlighted by André Breton (written in the 1920-30’s), is a name given to a childhood game we all used to play. It is set so that part of an image is drawn, then folded over. The next participant will continue the drawing and fold that over. The result is then shown, which can be quite humorous.

On looking into this further, I watched the Steve Sandvoss film, Exquisite Corpse (2010) and the trailer for The Exquisite Corpse Project (2013). Looking into different ways the ‘exquisite corpse’ can be interpreted, made me realise that there is more to it, than meets the eye:

The exquisite corpse, when I was a child, was played to both entertain and to help break the ice amongst new people in a class room setting. The drawn version of the exquisite corpse, can be used to fill the void of loneliness, when used to break the ice, or to entertain one’s self. The segments drawn by each individual could give an insight into an idea or into a mind set. A more creative mind would draw something elaborate; a more academic mind would draw the next logical progression to the starter that are visible; an immature mind may draw something inappropriate; a fast paced mind may draw something totally unrelated. If each segment can tell the audience a lot about an individual player in the game, surely an exquisite corpse based activity can be used, and interpreted, in multiple ways.

In looking into alternative perspectives of the exquisite corpse, such as the Steve Sandvoss film, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, we can see that when it is brought to life, it is to fill a void. Frankenstein’s monster was created to remove the pains of loneliness, though it didn’t work well to the Doctor’s liking. In the Sandvoss film, multiple women are harvested to save one life; the life saved in the film, thanks to the creator of a cure for death, was used to eradicate the feeling of the loss of a loved one.

In the written form, as shown in the 2013 movie and another Exquisite Corpse Project, the idea of the exquisite corpse was used to bring a set of friends together, one last time. In one sense it is used to mask, for a few more moments, that they are all going their separate ways. In referring back to my previous point, it could be to fill the void of the loss of good friends, or lack of entertainment.

In my opinion, life is the embodiment and personification of the exquisite corpse. People, just like in the 2013 movie, are brought together on a daily basis to help each other. If you look at it from the perspective of ‘the player’ and their part, it is easy to see. The player, a farmer, plants a seed, water helps it to grow, the sun helps to photosynthesise it, a picker harvests the fruit from the plant, a market will then sell the fruit, the whole outcome would be that a person can be fed. From that analogy, my point can be seen in a simplistic form.

In applying the exquisite corpse approach, life happens.