Lucid Dreaming

Inside: A Journal of Dreams creates a simulation of lucid dreaming, in which the interactive nature of the piece occurs as part of the half-dream state in the narrative. The difference between awake and asleep is shown in warring fonts upon the “pages” of the dream journal, in which any distinction between the two states is also unraveling because of the gas poisoning aspect in the storyline. This puts the viewer in an undefined space—although the creators present the dream journal in its would-be physical likeness at first, dreams keep growing out of the “pages” with every turn.

At the beginning and the end of the piece, we can click to rotate the journal, we can skim through its pages, and we can start again by reopening the cover. The constantly visible framework of the journal creates the illusion of the real-life situation of opening someone’s journal to read its contents—and we are invited to do so (“click to open”). It serves as the reminder of a familiar setting: the undisputed, time-tested vessel for all personal writing, often done for self-improvement or for an opportunity to reminisce. But just because the setting is familiar does not mean that it is comfortable. Much like the representation of the physical journal, a minimal identity for the narrator is provided from which to construct the narrative, simply as a building block for the project’s greater aim. These devices matter very little when it comes to the overall experience of the work, but are a necessary starting point.

At first, the details of the dreams are explicit upon the pages, but soon they are lost behind dark, fuzzy loops of video that appear over the text. The viewer is quickly submerged within the dream, haunted by certain relatable moments that are reoccurring themes within the human mind. As Journal of Dreams is based upon some actual dreams of its creators, these dream motifs understandably appear within the project. Anyone who is capable of dreaming is capable of identifying some of these motifs within the piece (with relevance to personal memory), whether due to dream dictionary or simply from conversation with others about their dreams. The difference is that we can end it when we “click to awaken.” As a participator, anyone interacting with Journal of Dreams becomes the lucid agent in the dreamlike setting.

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~ by ameliabwagner on April 17, 2010.

One Response to “Lucid Dreaming”

  1. I would agree if by lucid you mean capable of ‘rational’ decisions. Because I think that some of the ambiguity and weight of the text (ie: references to HER) is designed to be both universal but intensely personal. My experience during the piece was one based more upon feelings of voyeurism flavored with the dream experience…instead of becoming sucked in entirely. If anything, the frustrating behavior of the journal when you try to move it around is enough to bring me out of that hypnotic affective state of which you speak. The journal also (which you mention–which is why I am commenting) seems like something one found in an old apartment, a la HOL. Its tactile arrangement (in cyberspace) is what makes me think of the experience I mention above, and even though the video and sound function to bring the viewer out of that mode, the design of the text (and that the layout requires one to turn the book around or look at its reflection) does the opposite. I don’t understand this disjuncture. It’s obviously on purpose, but to what effect?

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