A process by which a familiar object is rendered as strange, compelling us to reconsider the mundane anew.

Proposed as a primary function of art by the Russian theorist and critic Viktor Shklovsky in his essay Art as Device

Alternative terminology includes ostranenie or estrangement.

The concept could be extended beyond the domain of art. For example, encountering a systematic explanation of some everyday thing can cause defamiliarisation. We still retain the capacity to observe that thing as usual, but may also experience it an enriched way.


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