The sleeping, dreaming mind has always held a strong fascination for me, but in the last few years I have begun to study the phenomena of dreaming more intensively from scientific, philosophical and aesthetic perspectives. We live in a time in which it seems an explanation for almost everything can be found through a Google search, yet in spite of the explosion of sleep research that has taken place since the 1960’s, what we know about dreaming is still relatively little. The fact that… (read more)
Artists have often been inspired by dreams, particularly those grouped under the broad banner of ‘surrealism’. However, my work bears little resemblance to the bizarre images of this tradition because I am less concerned with the content of the dream than I am in the process of dreaming itself, and our attempts to approach the phenomena empirically. I do not want to present dreams, as others have, as secret messages from our unconscious minds, ruptures in the fabric of civilized rationality, or gateways to other dimensions (as interesting as those ideas might be). Instead, I want to make use of developing technologies to poetically allow the sleeping brain to, as it were, speak for itself. Pulled from the brainwaves of anonymous dreamers, my abstract images, objects and sounds are literal translations of actual dreams. Their mysterious forms are created by the sleeping brain itself by using the biometric data collected by polysomnography scans during REM sleep to determine shapes, colors, positions and tones. Sometimes the data controls almost every possible variable, and sometimes I place restrictions on various elements, such as reducing the colour palette to a spectrum of reds or imposing a particular geometric structure. I treat the studio as an experimental laboratory bringing together genuine sleep science, aesthetics, philosophy and pataphysics, and new results are continually emerging.
These results therefore do not bear much resemblance to either the manifest or latent dream content (i.e. dreams about bunny rabbits do not produce images of bunny rabbits nor reveal what bunny rabbit dreams are about), and from a certain perspective they utterly fail to convey the emotional and psychological richness of the lived dream experiences. However, I believe this is in fact a productive failure, an important and revealing failure that helps expose the inevitable gulf between our private mental lives and the scientific and artistic practices that seek to document them. My hope is that the images and objects I am producing will thereby serve two roles: On the one hand, they will be artefacts of this failure, of the gulf between ourselves and our self-knowledge. On the other hand, they will be aesthetically valuable objects in their own right, reminders of our own constant, if latent, creative energy. Even though they do not successfully function as cinematic ‘dream viewers’, they do successfully evoke the mysterious process of dreaming, and it is this mystery itself that I am eager to make visible.
I also use this data to produce soundscapes, which currently range from piano compositions to weird synthesized burbles. To hear this work visit my soundcloud page.