In class, we explored the format called the manifesto. One of the ways of understanding a manifesto is that it is a written expression of oneâ€™s thoughts and beliefs about an important subject. In 1951, the celebrated journalist Edward R. Murrow began a long-running radio series called â€œThis I Believeâ€ in which he asked average Americans to write and read a short (5 minute) essay about how they understood the world. This was a manifesto of sorts.
In this exercise, youâ€™re going to be more specificâ€”though I fully expect that your values, your ideas about life, and its meaning can, should, and will fit into the assignment as part of its structure. Specifically, you will be writing about art, and what you think it should do, what it should be about, what â€œfunctionâ€ it should serve, what principles or values it should reflect. Be sure to look at some of the links provided below for inspiration and ideas. Donâ€™t hesitate to be funny and/or creative with this assignment. Give your artistic vision a name (after all, you can think of this as you creating your own art movement). Have fun with the format which is often both philosophical and searching but at the same time bombastic and excited, since art manifestoes are often written by passionate people who are trying to revolutionize their fields. Allow yourself to exercise some imagination, but also be thoughtful and strive for solid, clear writing. At the bottom of this prompt, you will find links to examples of famous manifestoes that you may use as models for your own.
Some of the things you might want to address are: what is the name of your movement, and how did that name come to be? What do you think art should do? What do you think it should be about? How do you think it should look/sound/read? Who should create this art, and who should it be for? Given their argumentative and sometimes militant tone, manifestoes often have a negative component, so list some of the things your art movement is against. What would you like to see disappear? What kinds of things are too old, tired, or irrelevant to feature in your movement.
Your manifesto will have two components: a) the written argument (Word doc) that lays out your vision, and b) a Powerpoint with at least three works of three different mediums (for example, one painting, one song, and one poem) that demonstrate the principles of your art movement. You do not have to create these artworks, but you should select them to be demonstrative of what your art movement means and strives to say. Be sure to give an explanation for how each of the chosen works fits into your vision.
This assignment will be 750 words total (Word doc and Powerpoint combined). It will be assessed on its formal clarity, the quality of the writing and editing, its degree of engagement with its topic, its creativity/inventiveness/originality of ideas, and the sophistication of thought it expresses.
The Manifesto of Surrealism
Andre Breton coins a word – now a common adjective in English – to describe a movement that wants to liberate the power of dreams and the unconscious to create a newer, freer art. Notice how the form of this manifesto is itself dreamlike and playful; toward the end Breton even quotes the â€œdictionary definitionâ€ for this word that he just made up. https://www.tcf.ua.edu/Classes/Jbutler/T340/SurManifesto/ManifestoOfSurrealism.htm (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
The Hacker Manifesto
In the 1980s, computer hacker culture sometimes bore a kind of Robin Hood, outsider-heroic ethic. In popular media today, the serial television show, Mr. Robot, follows the continuation of this kind of so-called â€œhacktivism.â€ 1986â€™s â€œThe Conscience of a Hackerâ€ – AKA, â€œThe Hacker Manifesto,â€ was by The Mentor, a member of the shadowy group known as The Legion of Doom, a kind of forerunner to the 21st centuryâ€™s Anonymous. http://phrack.org/issues/7/3.html (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)
Dada Manifesto 1918
The passage on Dada in the textbook will help with this selection. From the beginning, the author, Tristan Tzara, is creating a kind of satire of the manifesto itself. Ever-irreverent, the Dadaists refuse to even take their own statement of artistic philosophy seriously. Inasmuch as a manifesto is a rule-book for art, in the end, the Dadaists seem to be saying that the only rule is: there are no rules.
http://writing.upenn.edu/library/Tzara_Dada-Manifesto_1918.pdf (Links to an external site.)