A Study of Anomalous Art, from the Paleolithic to the Present
By Doctor Hannah Morel, head of the Artistic Anomalies Unit
(The following excerpt is from pages 6-9 of Doctor Morel's paper. The full document may be accessed from the Foundation Central Archives)
According to William Tartore, founder of the Artistic Anomalies Unit, anart is "a piece of artistic media with an anomalous effect that was intended by the artist as part of the expression of the piece. There are instances where media will exhibit anomalous properties unintended by the creator, and in such instances the anomalous properties are unconnected with what is being expressed."1 This definition has served for almost forty years, and in my experience and the experience of many others, is the one certainty in the study of anomalous art.
Of course, this definition is certain because it is broad and universal. Moving beyond this surface description, anart becomes much more difficult to define. Anart will often use experimental, illegal, or impossible mediums of expression, and the expressions made by anart are often incredibly esoteric, completely nonsensical, or impossible for human beings to understand. Many times, scholars attempting to define anart will fall into the old debate of “what is art”, an act which rarely aids them.
This document is meant as a study of the history of anomalous art, or anart, and aims to provide an overview of its major schools, philosophies, styles, and practitioners. Literary anomalies will not be covered in this paper.2
The chaotic and bizarre nature of anart makes classification of styles incredibly difficult. While in certain periods we may see an overarching and clearly-defined theme, where the majority of anartists follow the same philosophy with predictable results, this is the exception, rather than the rule. It is rare for more than small cells of anartists to follow a single philosophy, and often cells and individuals will mix schools and styles as according to their whims.
However, study of anart in the long term reveals patterns and internal consistencies. Throughout history, there have been four major schools of anomalous artists: Those who want to repair reality through art, those that wish to remake reality, those who wish to destroy reality, those that wish to create new realities. It should be noted, however, that these schools are arbitrary labels created by the Foundation in order to define something that is very difficult to define: the practitioners of these schools will never claim themselves as such, and no anartist or piece of anart will ever fit entirely neatly into these categories.
These schools and their primary sub-schools are as follows:
Reconstructionists - Those anartists who wish to fix social, economic, and ethical problems through the implementation of anart. Reconstructionist anart is meant for the sole purpose of achieving an end, and is therefore temporary, becoming unnecessary when the goal has been reached.
- Petty Reconstructionists – Supporters of movements that did not originate with an anartist or group of anartists. This sub-school has become increasingly prevalent since the middle of the twentieth century up through the present.
- True Reconstructionists – The founders of movements. The goals of these movements may be similar to non-anomalous groups, but they maintain no association with them beyond shared goals.
- Dadaist / Radical Reconstructionists - This school exhibits no sense or coherency in their causes or methods, outside of the pursuing of a goal, albeit a nonsensical one. Dadaist Reconstructionist movements rarely last long, and very rarely span more than a single person, both the result of the seemingly necessary lack of sanity required.
Recreationists - Those anartists who shape pre-existing reality according to their will. Unlike Reconstructionist art, Recreationism does not necessarily work toward a greater end, and is meant to be a permanent fixture; however, there is still a great deal of overlap.
- Minor Recreationists - The most common Recreationist sub-school, wherein anart is used transform on a small scale: a person, an object, or a single place. It is common in the present day for many anartists, even those of highly opposed schools, to experiment with Minor Recreationist art, most commonly in body modification.
- Major Recreationists - This sub-school is based solely on the scope of the anart used, as it is aimed at transforming countries, societies, the entire world, or things of similar large scale. These projects usually involve large cells of anartists, often of different schools, led by a specific individual or group. These projects very rarely come to fruition, as they are usually either interrupted by outside forces or collapse due to infighting or mismanagement.
- Reformed Recreationists - Art is for the transformation of the self in all aspects. This sub-school has traits similar to that of religions, and as such is rife with conflicting themes and ideas. This sub-school is notable in the general lack of external artistic media: the Reformed Recreationist considers the soul to be the perfect canvas, and as such it is the only one worth using.
Deconstructionists -Those anartists who act to destroy facets of pre-existing reality, without providing replacement.
- Pseudo-Deconstructionists - This sub-school focuses on toppling what they view to be oppressive or corrupt structures of society. This sub-school often mixes with the Reconstructionist schools, most commonly Petty Reconstructionism.
- True Deconstructionists - The target is not only to be destroyed, but erased utterly from reality, so that it never existed in the first place. This is a very rare sub-school, a testament to the difficulty of creating such a work. Of course, it should be noted that their rarity might be a result of their past success.
- Absolutist Deconstructionists - A school based on the belief that existence itself is both corrupt and meaningless and must be destroyed completely. Members of this sub-school are highly dangerous and openly hostile, and should be dealt with using extreme caution.
Creationists - The broadest school of anart, focusing solely on the creation of art and expression through it. Some scholars claim that all anart is by nature Creationist, and so the label is redundant. To an extent this is true: there is extensive overlap between Creationist art and other schools. However, the general opinion is that Creationism is specific enough to exist on its own.
- True Creationists - The vast majority of anartists fall into this category, and it serves as an effective catch-all for those who do not easily fall into other categories. This definition extends to all anartists who create anart for its own sake, and whose view of art does not place them among the High Creationists or Artistic Deists.
- High Creationists - Through the act of creation the anartist does not only express reality, but defines it. This is a property shared amongst all anartists, and so all anartists are considered valid in the eyes of this school. Recent scholarship has argued that this is not a true school of anart, and the position has been gaining momentum in recent years.4
- Artistic Deists - The Artist is God. Unlike High Creationists, where the ability to define truth and reality is shared by all artists, the Artistic Deist believes that the right is theirs alone, and that no other individual may define truth. Artistic Deists are often highly dangerous, often exhibiting traits of megalomania. Sufficiently skilled Artistic Deists may be considered in the same category as reality-manipulators.
Each of these schools and their respective sub-schools will be explained in greater detail in later chapters.