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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Theodorou

Exhibit 'Dreams of Others’ Translates Dream Science Into Art

Updated: Feb 6

An immersive exhibit "Dreams of Others" recently renewed its shows after the Christmas break.

Exhibition at NP3 © Alexandra Theodorou

Dreaming is a universal human experience, yet our understanding of it is relatively limited. With the progression of science and technology, we are presented with more ways of experiencing dreams outside of our own minds.

The immersive exhibit titled “Dreams of Others” co-created by Federico Murgia and the Aiar collective uses those new tools to make the intangible tangible. In an interview with The Groninger, two of the creators, Federico Murgia and Alessandro Braga of the Aiar collective, explain the thought behind the project.

How Does it Work?

The installation is a combination of light and sound which activate in response to the recorded brainwave activity of a sleeping person through Electroencephalography (EEG). 

In a mostly empty room except for a few bean bags, observers can relax as they absorb the flickering lights coming from saber-shaped lamps. The accompanying low, droning sounds feel both visceral and cosmic.

The effect is a sort of mindscape that although created by the dreaming experience of one woman is intuitively understood by the audience.

“It really becomes about you, when you're inside that room. You are essentially in your own dream,” says Federico. “I think it becomes more introspective than empathic towards the performance.”

Brain activity while dreaming © Alexandra Theodorou

Dreaming and Memory

Dreaming is a vital part of processing and keeping memories. New knowledge, moral dilemmas, and problems from our daytime lives are all processed as we sleep and integrate into our long-term memory. Yet Alessandro and Federico feel that memory is an aspect often overlooked in our conceptions of dreams.

“The ways in which we try to convey this in the installation,” Alessandro explains, “is by making use of sound samples obtained from the performer's everyday life. The spaces that they inhabit as well as her own voice.”

The Atmosphere

A few elements combine to create a shared sense of intimacy. One is the fact that someone's dreams are behind what you see and hear as a visitor at the installation. This is then amplified by the use of the performer’s voice in the sound samples. The audience is fully immersed in the mind of the dreamer.

Although now the installation functions by reacting to the recorded data of their brainwaves, during the launching show in December the audience was in the same room as the sleeping performer. According to Federico this only intensified this sense of entering someone’s most private space - their mind.

“This dimension of intimacy is clearly observable in the way in which people interacted with the performer during the live show. You could see them slowing down and hesitating to come closer.”

The Performance Ends

As the performer wakes up, both the lights and sound effects accelerate. The show comes to an end. This is the moment that Federico loved the most during the live show.

“It is a very intimate moment for the person waking up, which was then shared with the public. At that point, the audience was holding their breath even if there wasn't any more show.”

To the two creators, it seemed like the audience behaved as part of the performer. As though they were asleep too and were only just waking up.

“It's weird," says Federico. "You are with her, but you are also inside yourself.”

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