For this issue, our cover turns to the strange and sometimes unsettling style of Surrealism. While Surrealist art may be most commonly known for its vivid imagery, the style has its roots in Dadaism, which emerged in Europe in the late 19th century during a time of great social and political unrest. As a movement, Dadaism was defined primarily by a growing disgust for war, convention and the precepts of traditional European culture. Surrealism therefore emerged initially not as an art form at all, but as a direct rebuttal to the very idea of refined art, focusing instead on the rejection of rational thought, the free association of words and forms, and the fantastical world of the subconscious. While the very political and personal nature of Surrealism engendered a broad range of styles and philosophies within the movement, the overarching goal of the Surrealists was to capture and portray a superior reality by combining dreamlike images with aspects of the modern world.
In many ways, the current climate in which scientists find themselves echoes the situation of the early Surrealists. Within the scientific community, the pursuit of “truth” and clinical outcomes must be weighed realistically against the availability of funding while guarding against corruption. Meanwhile, with the seeming backlash against scientific thought in the public and political spheres, many scientists are keenly aware of the need for new, revolutionary, and imaginative ways of conducting and disseminating science. To this end, scientists (and the institutions that support them) must recognize that research does not exist within a void, but is both influenced by and ultimately impacts upon the social, political, economic and geographical contexts in which it occurs.