Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Project Proposal - revision ~2

Working Title:
The representation of my dreams in sculpture.

Aims & Objectives:
The most significant question / problem trying to tackle:-

By capturing the dreams I aim to gain a deeper insight into the ‘dual nature of reality’*, how life and memories are linked and dreams help to untangle/solve problems by linking things in an emotional based filing system, rather than chronologically or the same way our conscious brain would make associations.

*'the dual nature of reality', can be described as the ‘first order’ philosophic view, composed of a non-material realm, epitomised by the thoughts and perceptions of the mind, that includes not just how we perceive an object or experience through our senses, but also the memories, emotions and feelings with which we respond to it. The 'second order' scientific view is limited to the material methods, an objective material realm. (Le Fanu, 2009). Our experience of the world relies on both types of reality, they are interdependent.

For example, if this is hard to grasp, lets take an example of a tree, my subjective impressions of the trees outside are influenced by my memories and emotional feelings about trees in general. This view/experience is non material, individual and subjective, interpreted and comprehended by the powers of reason and imagination. And yet we can describe the tree in scientific terms of its physical structure, an objective, material view.

The brain can also be described in this way. Our subjective thoughts, memories and dreams versus the physical structure of neuronal circuits and synapses. Neither are fully adequate to describe a brain fully and yet it is so far impossible for science to combine these views effectively.

I am interested in this border or the edges of our conscious experience - interfacing between the ‘real’, material world and my subjective experiences. Therefore capturing these dreams, which are a direct representation of subconscious thought and transforming them into physical, material objects, I aim to combine these different experiences of reality.


  1. Adequately record the dreams as raw material to work with.

  2. Encompassment and transportation to imaginary places.

  3. Portray my own emotion-based associations of scenarios by linking dream-scapes together not necessarily in a chronological order in the order that they were dreamt but more to do with the different feelings associated with each dream.

  4. Encourage interpretation of my dreams by an audience, invitation to a normally private world.


  1. The metamorphosis from dream to sculpture (mind to hand) is extremely important, the first stage will be to collect snapshots of my dreams. I plan to record voice notes upon waking to better recollect the emotions and feelings involved in the dream. From the sound recordings I can make sketches of the scenario and narrative. These can then be developed into three dimensions.

  2. Encompassment by creating an installation environment which the viewer can enter either physically (room size) or mentally (if the environment is made in miniature). I plan to use the following materials for their specific ethereal qualities: porcelain (fragile, translucent), wax (temporary, melting nature of the material), bronze (paradoxically crystallising the dream in something so permanent and solid) and possibly film (scope for more emotive qualities, sound, narrative, indefinite visual imagery).

    By constructing these scenes in miniature, I could create a tiny parallel world, as it involves the viewer in an intense, focused way. A tiny work can seem to exist in a state of haunted isolation, a permanently vacated scene. Physically, the audience can only enter the scene through their imagination, a tiny parallel world, closer to an imaginative one.

  3. Possible through listening to the qualities of my voice recordings? Sadness, lost etc

  4. By displacing this content from another reality, one that is naturally forgotten and revealing/displaying the dream content, this encourages interpretation.

landscape/environments, narrative and emotional content captured.


All in? check reflective round up.


Artists have been and still are fascinated by dreams. Since Freud’s important text at the turn of the century, which influenced artists such as Giorgio de Chirico and subsequently the Surrealists, artists have continued to use dreams as a starting point for their work. In a contemporary context I will be studying artists across a diverse range of media encompassing sculpture, film, video and drawing. For example: Susan Hiller, Joseph Cornell, Charles Avery, Keith Tyson and filmmakers Michel Gondry and Luis Buñuel.

Recent exhibitions in the UK such as Flights of Reality, Kettle’s Yard (2002), The Dreaming & Sleeping exhibition, Wellcome Trust (2006), Miniature Worlds, Jerwood Space (2006), Charles Avery, Parasol Unit (2008) Riddle Me, Danielle Arnaud (2008) are just a small sample showing that artistic interest in the themes of dreams, fantasy, illusion and imagined worlds is very much a current topic.

‘from the eighteenth century onwards scientific knowledge has been prioritised, through its ability to 'reduce' the seemingly inscrutable complexities of the natural world to their more readily explicable parts and mechanisms.’ (Le Fanu, 2009)

Unconscious is not a private region inside us but the underlying and unknown pattern of our relations with one another, mediated by language. (Lacan, 60s)

From a philosophic point of view, consciousness studies, which are closely aligned to neurological studies helps to put my project in context by looking at parallel theories in this field. Philosopher, Thomas Nagel perhaps being one of the best examples of my views: Taking intuition seriously, objectivity and science is not a test of reality, just one way of understanding reality. The brain is more than neurons, no universal theory can explain it all.

The 'Decade of the Brain' was adopted by US Congress 1/01/90, brought about many innovations, meetings and conventions which made consciousness studies fashionable. There was the first symposium about the science of consciousness - University of Arizona 1994, 1,000 delegates. Spawned numerous new journals and articles.

Contemporary / Scientific:

‘Our emotional brain [centred in the limbic system] is physiologically able to overwhelm the rationality of the cortex. We can conclude that emotions play an important role in our behaviour, perhaps a role even greater than that of reason.’ [Through studies of Synaesthesia]
(Cytowic, 1994)


‘Superficially, one could claim that both art and physics have some similar areas of interest. Both explore the physical nature of materials but their reasons for doing so are different. Physics analyses; art makes, or manipulates in unusual ways. In respect of contemporary physics however - quantum theory, relativity and cosmology - there are potentially close connections because both are concerned with questions about the ultimate nature of reality. Both are concerned with how we see ourselves in relation to nature, whether as objective observers or as subjective participants.’
(Ede, ed. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2000)

‘[…] investigating these psychological borderlands where areas of unconscious intersect with what we think of as ordinary, everyday consciousness. Or another way of looking at it would be to describe these states of mind as altered states of consciousness, but whether they are consciousness or unconsciousness is not really something I want to debate; I am just interested in the fact that there are these very different ways of perceiving reality that many artists are interested in.’
(Hiller, 2000)

Why do you want to make the sculptures?

Excited to bring into the ‘real’ world, fragments of our subconscious thought.

Why exciting?

Displaced from another reality, one that is naturally forgotten to allow room for our everyday lives to continue?

The displacement and revealing/displaying of the dream content invites interpretation and encompassment of the audience in a normally private world, transportation to imaginary places.

I plan to continue using sketchbooks and theoretical written notes collated on my blog as my reflective journal. I will need access to the ceramics, 3D and sculpture workshops and the library. I plan to take full advantage of the exhibitions, talks and collections on offer in London. I will also need tutorial support through group discussions and one-to-one sessions.


I imagine my final works to be miniature in scale and presented within an installation environment.



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