d.REM is a curatorial project conceived by Allegra Shorto to explore and expand the relationship between art and dream. It unites thinkers from the fields of art, music and science to trace the blurred boundary between sleep and wakefulness. Through a series of dream interventions, artists attempt to penetrate the dream state by curating sleeping environments. They create sensory installations that probe sleepers with feelings, sounds and smells that may be incorporated into the narrative of dreams; alter their content or partially wake participants, making them aware that they are dreaming.
The first d.REM intervention takes place on May 25 at the Freud Museum. A selection of artists are invited to sculpt a sensory landscape in Sigmund Freud’s house for a group of sleepers, who will spend the night in the museum. Extending the work of 19th century dream doctor Alfred Maury, these artists attempt to creatively shape dreams.
The experiment is informed by new and original research conducted by lucid dream expert Dr. Keith Hearne proving that sensory information arouses dreams and can trigger lucidity. In this new era of expanded understanding of the dream dimension, we are awakened to the possibility of curating the caverns of conscious, sleeping minds.
All-night sound performances by Lee Berwick, Camilla Emson and IONE diffuse through the rooms of the museum. Berwick’s soundscape is rooted in frequencies tuned to the earth’s rotation relative to the sun and star field. The installation explores the harmonising effect these vibrations can have, as the sleeping body entrains to the intense, focused movement of the air in the surrounding environment. Over the nine-hour sleep period, the artist introduces elemental sounds over the earth tones in ninety minute cycles, which correspond to the duration of REM sleep phases. The five elemental sound compositions, developed for their healing potential, are ordered in the production cycle that according to Chinese philosophy flows from Earth to Metal to Water to Wood to Fire and on back to Earth. Additional sounds will be used periodically to remind those half-awake that their body falls asleep and the mind wakes up on the astral.
Initiating Berwick's soundscape is a collaborative performance between the artist and Mikael Öberg. In The Divine Dreamer, the performance storyteller uses spoken word to spin dreamlike imagery of an irrational adventure set between the dissolution and re-creation of the universe.
A collection of video fragments created by Rebecca Salvadori are screened alongside Berwick's sound installation, acting as a cryptographic alphabet. Vision overload and information excess collide with a desire for silence in the artist's project euroemptiness. Salvadori also presents two visual compositions, synchronized and non-synchronized exercises of arrhythmic empathy, a series of animated shapes and colours assembled according to constantly evolving combinations of intentionality. The combinations never repeat; the arrhythmic evolving movements attempt to break free from a mechanical, predetermined outcome. The video was commissioned by composer Sandro Mussida for his Ventuno Costellazioni Invisibili limited edition vinyl release.
Sewing into this sensorial web, Camilla Emson’s sculpture and sound installation emanates frequencies that are known to engineer psychobiological shifts and alter human consciousness. The work includes a vibrating sand tray that visually records the shifting patterns created by these tones and a collection of biomorphic clear glass forms. In her multidisciplinary practice, Camilla explores the relationship between her moving body and pliable materials to explore notions of human plasticity, body-memory, respons-ability and/or embodied storytelling. In this work, vibrating sand makes the invisible visible and encourages us to experience our body as a receptor and collaborator in the making of dreams. Our bodies’ inner space and movement resonates with and is transformed through a dialogue between sound, sand and glass.
IONE conducts a numinous Dream Meditation, gently guiding the reposing audience into sleep. Her speaking and sounding voice interweaves with Island Plant Music, a sound bed created by composer Pauline Oliveros for their Opera, The Nubian Word for Flowers; A Phantom Opera.
Interlacing with the soundscapes is Odette Toilette’s olfactory installation that spreads the scent of vetiver through the space. The artist’s work grows from an interest in the symbolism of the root, which gives life to the natural world and grounds it in the earth, but also has ties to the underworld. Its function echoes that of dreams, which are rooted in the subconscious realms and feed our waking life. Vetiver in particular has historically been used in Indian sleep rituals, where it is woven into curtains that block out heat and light; its scent has calming properties and may affect sleep-waking patterns.
Carla Mackinnon’s video work continues her ongoing interest in the experience of sleeping, dreaming and hypnagogic states. The artist explores the privacy, potency and mystery of our nightly retreats into internal worlds.
The d.REM interventions will be accompanied by a radio program of new and existing sound commissions to be broadcast from June 2018 onwards on Proposition Radio. Each episode is a soundscape lasting the duration of an REM sleep cycle, roughly 90 minutes, to be slept through. Mimicking the cyclical stages of the sleeping mind, the resulting soundscapes flit from silence to resounding repetition. As they reverberate through sleeping minds, they may cause dream ripples. Listeners are invited to write in with their interpretation of the sound and how it affected their dreams. Participants include Gregory Barsamian, Lee Berwick, Delia Gonzalez, Dr Keith Hearne, Kurt Hentschlager, Luke Jerram, Dan Jones, Jacob Kierkegaard, Robert Rich and Chu-Li Shewring.
d.REM is made possible with support by rem-fit www.rem-fit.co.uk