Comte de Lautreamont (1846-1870) was a French poet who greatly influenced the Surrealists by proclaiming that a volley of surprising thoughts and emotions would erupt simply by changing the context in which an object is situated. He provided an example of such a displacement  – an umbrella, placed beside a sewing machine, lying on a dissecting table.

Comte de Lautreamont (1846-1870) was a French poet who greatly influenced the Surrealists by proclaiming that a volley of surprising thoughts and emotions would erupt simply by changing the context in which an object is situated. He provided an example of such a displacement  – an umbrella, placed beside a sewing machine, lying on a dissecting table. 
 
The following works by Salvador Dali and Giorgio de Chirico demonstrate that the Surrealists put this principle into action. Their motive was to release suppressed associations from the unconscious.
 
Dali
 
The Five Ladies
 
Smithson
 
Tavares Strachan applies this artistic device in Where We Are is Always Miles Away, 2006. He collapsed distance and space through the displacement of a 56″ x 56″ portion of Crown Street in New Haven. Along with the concrete sidewalk, he removed a street sign, a parking meter, underlying earth, and even the surrounding air. While municipal workers in New Haven filled in the resulting void, this chunk of an east coast city was being transported to the west coast for an exhibition in the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco. It was sealed in a container to maintain the atmosphere and temperature in New Haven.
 
a. Compare Miles Away to The Distance Between regarding humanity’s power, speed, and ability to traverse great distances. Are these works optimistic? What new thoughts did these surprising dislocations release in your mind?
 
b. How is the following comment by Strachan expressed in these works of art? “We want what we can’t have.”54