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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

#neruDADA and #DADAdelrey for #poetrymonth

‘It’s not Dada that is nonsense–but the essence of our age that is nonsense.’

One of my favourite creative movements (really more anti-art so I’m hesitant to call it ‘art”) is that of the Dadaists. You’ve heard of them – Duchamp, Man Ray, Tzara

Here’s a list of the major players (taken at the fab Dada exhibit at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art this past summer)

As a girl who loves her remix, I’ve always adored the Dada approach. I’m even contemplating starting a workshop or online mini course using Dada for learning.

I won’t get into the whys and wherefores of Dada now, but you can start here if you’d like to know more.

a remix-your-head exercise (photo taken at MOMA NYC)

This post is to archive what I’m doing for poetry month, which occurs each April. In the past I’ve sketched famous lines of poetry or quotes about the nature of poetry itself, but this year I wanted to play with serendipity, as I am often want to do. My inspiration came from Tristan Tzara’s recipe for making a Dadaist poem:

Take a newspaper. Take some scissors. Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem. Cut out the article. Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag. Shake gently. Next take out each cutting one after the other. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag. The poem will resemble you. And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.

Tristan Tzara (1920)

If you think this sounds familiar, it is because William Burroughs capitalized on this with his “cut-up” poetry, also adopted by the likes of David Bowie and Kurt Cobain.

I wanted to see if I could find a Dada generator online – that’s right, an algorithm that would randomize some text for me. It turns out there are many, including this one from LaSalle:

The one I finally ended up using was this one, which also offers other types of randomizing:

But what of source material?

I wanted to play with the verses of an established poet, and one I liked. After much pondering I decided upon Pablo Neruda because

The play on words just killed me! I loooooove portmanteaux.

Here were my steps:

  1. choose a Neruda poem and throw it into the Dada-izer, choosing either 6 words per line or 4

  2. peruse what comes up and find the fragment that makes the most sense and is still quite poetic

  3. create an original animated, musical gif

I make the gifs with a mashup of mobile apps (all on my iPhone 6). First, I edited a photo of Neruda in the Enlight app, then I uploaded that to my drawing app, Paper 53.

I drew the #nerudada title for consistency, then duplicated the image.

To make the stop-motion, I duplicate each image and add one word of hand-drawn type.

After downloading all (in order) to my phone’s camera roll, I use the app ImgPlay to make an animated gif. I wanted to add a music track, so I threw it in Splice by GoPro and chose something called “Spanish Twilight”.

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After about 5 (my goal is to do one each day this month), I decided to see what happened if I pieced all verses together in order.

I think the result was quite poignant!

To make this image I used Enlight again (saving after each addition of word images, so basically 7 times!) and a really cool label maker app:

Whilst driving and cranking the Lana Del Rey on Spotify, it occurred to me I could play with her lyrics in the same way and create a


This was the first one (still image).

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Doing one little creative make consistently for a month is something I wholeheartedly encourage…it becomes a bit of an anchor to your day (I do mine first thing during morning coffee). For me, this project allows me to tinker with some familiar and new apps and play with ways they could go together.

I’m always trying to see how to push the limits of one’s phone as a creative device.

Moreover, this particular endeavor exposes me to some beautiful poetry (something we all need a bit more of in our daily diet) and the wordplay I’m doing exercises my mind for other work.

I hope you enjoy can find them all on my Twitter or Instagram feed (@amyburvall).

If you have students or just want to test the waters yourself, why not play with some of these apps using this method and get down with Dada in your own special way?

#art #dadadelrey #lanadelrey #creativity #neruda #poetry #dada #mobile #nerudada #poetrymonth #apps

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