For the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Sciences we held two events, this one was at the Glynn Vivian art gallery, Swansea. The dream was of a virtual reality research centre, the dreamer flew up in the VR above the research centre and above the shoreline and cliffs which were next to the centre. A male and a female researcher described the VR programme as aiming to cause elation and positive emotions.
As part of a three day celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein we held a DreamsID event at Taliesin Create, part of Swansea University, with invitations to discuss nightmares and dreams and have them painted.
Nightmare of teddy bear whose arms become tendrils that strangle the dreamer, dreamer runs out of house and sees silhouette of man inside the house.
We also had a very positive dream told to us: "Car, motorcycle and ballerina dream."
"I am in the back seat of a car, relaxed. Suddenly I am shocked to realise that no-one is driving and I have to take over steering by reaching over from the back. I can’t get to the pedals and I fear for myself and for others for what might happen, even though no-one else is around outside. But I don’t crash, I sense I manage the situation.
"I am next on a beautiful large black and chrome or gold motorcycle, like a Harley-Davidson or Triumph. I am wearing one-piece feminine black leathers, like cat woman. I am riding the bike fast, it is very large and I am astride it, leaning forward, no helmet. It feels fantastic, and not out of control. It is great, I feel a powerful woman.
"I am then outside, I am a ballerina, pirouetting, beautiful, in a classical and pale pink leotard, with pale pink tights and pink ballet shoes. I do a high floating twirl, very graceful, like a musical box ballerina. I am very pleased with myself."
Dream shared, discussed and painted in a session as part of the multidisciplinary Dream Science Symposium, October 2018, at University of California Los Angeles http://thedreamscience.ucla.edu
“It was night-time and I was in London. I had never been there before in my life. I was with my old high school friends, four, all girls my closest friends, plus me. The city was really bright, in contrast to dark sky. You know, cityscape at night-time is really beautiful, so there were bright lights, almost a little bit overwhelming, but the night sky was sort of very dark and blue. We were close to the Big Ben tower, which is a like a pretty famous tourist destination. We were like talking about coffee, mainly the taste of it, which I don’t like, I am not a huge fan of the bitter taste.
“All of a sudden, you know the feeling when you fall in a roller coaster, anti-gravity, you feel your body sort of lift up and you feel strange? I looked around me and everyone just started floating, feet slowly coming off ground. This was at a point in time where I felt sort of lucid, where you can sort of control your body in your dream, and the first thing you want to do when you feel lucid is you want to go fly around. I could control my movements. My friends could do the same. So everyone in the entire city, it was pretty crowded, started floating, slowly up, along with my friends. Some people were really scared and stopped, but I was thrilled with the fact that I could control everything now.
“We were flying and spinning around Big Ben, like in the movie Peter Pan, the famous scene where they are flying around. It was like a picturesque version of that, swirling and doing loops, it was with all my friends and I could look down, look down at the whole world and city, the contrast of bright lights with the dark night sky. My vision was blurred black and yellow with lots of noise. It was freezing cold, the wind was going really fast. I could feel how cold it was, but it was like an adrenaline rush. We kept going further out into the ocean, I could control everything, going to the side.
“I woke up but I didn’t want the dream to end, I liked the dream so much I tried to go back to sleep and continue it. Miraculously the dream continued and I was flying again, a long time, I flew a long while. My friends were no longer with me. I thought I have had my fun, so I flew straight down and dove into the ocean, it was completely black, and then I woke up.”
“I’m in a building that’s big, made with blocks of stone. It feels like it’s hundreds of years old, I’m not sure how many stories it is but it’s feels like it’s almost a square. It’s like a museum, kind of dark and in shadow. There are windows on the far wall. It’s just a really thick stone wall, kind of grey. It’s open in the interior, like the Guggenheim in New York, but with square corners instead of round. The landings are all on the outside and it’s open down the middle so you could potentially see all the way to the bottom. I can’t see to the bottom as it’s murky down there. I’m walking down the corridor along the outside edge of the top floor, heading toward the staircase, I’m going to turn right and start heading down. But on my left is this tapestry that I would have just walked by except that, as I’m walking by it, it moves, or it’s folded or there’s some way that it gets my attention. From first glance it’s sort of nondescript, it’s faded, it doesn’t really stand out. But then it gets my attention, and I turn and look at it. The tapestry is quite big, maybe 15 feet high, bigger than me and 6-8 feet wide. It’s really, really old. Like one of those carpets that was bright red when it was made but has now faded to a pale orangey colour. And when I look at it, I don’t really see any detail, I can’t really tell what’s on it. But I think I see a tree, and in the dream I think, the tree of life. It might be like an oak tree, that kind of shape, it’s deciduous, fully leafed. And I get the sense there’s a river. And I also get a sense that it’s one of those tapestries where there’s a story or a myth being depicted. It was very detailed and densely woven. There’s so much in it, it feels like all of life is represented in it. The tapestry feels richly filled with people and animals and all kinds of symbols, it’s crowded with stuff.
“There is a small group of people starting in the same place I did. They want to see this tapestry so I have to move along because there isn’t enough space for us all. You can’t stand back and get a good perspective because the railing is there, and the dropoff. They are big wooden railings. They’re oak, carved, thick, old, somewhat ornate. The top has this wide curved, carved surface, and there are spindles underneath. At the corner of the stairs is a feature, a curved piece of wood to mark the corner. The corners of the building are square, but the railing is curved. They are beautiful even though I don’t like them. I have an adverse reaction to this railing. I don’t like oak.
“So I stand and look at the tapestry for a little while, and then I have to move reluctantly out of the way to let these people see it. I realize I have to share. I go further down. When I moved away from it and looked at it from a different angle, there was a whole different scene – like those scarves from India that are different colors depending on the angle of light, but the tapestry was much more complex than that, a thousand times more intricate. It felt like if you shifted your angle even just a little bit, it shifted the picture. It felt like it could change anyway, with time as well. It felt very magical.”
Dream of Unfair Blame was a winning artwork at the annual Research as Art competition at Swansea University and was exhibited at the Royal Institution, London, from September 2018 to January 2019. The panel of judges was Professor Gail Cardew, Professor of Science, Culture and Society at the Royal Institution; Flora Graham, Digital Editor of New Scientist; Barbara Kiser, Books and Arts Editor, Nature, and Dan Cressey, Journalist, Nature. It will next be exhibited in a touring exhibition to Texas.
Thank you to everyone who attended this event, to share a dream or to be in the audience!
Bird Island Dream
Dream of a hotel with hearty food and drink that becomes the apocalypse
Dream of a tsunami
Dream of train journeys and a factory
Dream of Briefly Seeing Mum Again
"The dream is about me sitting in a waiting room, while some member of my family has asked me (a voice that I know, but I didn't see the face) why I look so happy, and also why I was so excited. I replied that I have an appointment with my mum who died when I was 2 years old. My mum and her mum appeared a few minutes later standing by the door, looking young and very healthy, white faces, red cheeks and black hair, tied up at the back. But it was only for a few minutes if not few seconds when my nanny keeps telling my mum, "Time is up, let's go," and pulling her by her hand. I was so disappointed, and the same voice asked why I didn't look happy and I said I was so excited to see my mum and have a chat with her but my nanny took her away from me and didn't let her stay longer with me."
Aliens' garden and dragonfly dream
Dream: "I am lying naked on an operating table surrounded by doctors or research staff who are all wearing brown laboratory coats with a gold flash across the front. They are preparing me to go to another planet and they are measuring me and preparing me for another atmosphere. There are computers and other technical machinery in the room.
I am then on a barren planet, surrounded by a crowd of people. All the people there are unable to cope with the environment. I show them how to plant seeds and suddenly flowers sprout up before our eyes. They all fall to their knees and touch the earth. Then above me a giant dragonfly raises up. I am happy."
Green window and geometrical drawings dream
Dream: "I am in a street in Cambridge and look into a shop window and see planning architectural drawings that are geometrical, very neat and precise. I am surprised to realise that my art history tutor has made these drawings, as she is not such an organised person. I see the green of the window as I look in to the shop window and the city of Cambridge beyond. I realise that there is a strong presence behind me. I am aware of the presence but do not turn to look at him or her."
Empty village, Beatles and decanter dream
Dream: "My partner and I are driving through a ghost village, just empty shells of houses, like a village requisitioned by the army with the inhabitants forcibly removed. My partner or maybe we have bought a very small, stone-built cottage, I’m wondering what we do with it if the building is surrounded by ghostly, crumbling shells. Next I’m watching something about the early days of the Beatles and the four of them living together in one small room, they are play-fighting and joshing with each other and I think what a jolly time they had when they were all good friends. My partner and I are then with a small group of people. An oldish man is telling us about the golden liqueur he is holding in a cut-glass decanter. He pours me a small amount. I take a sip and the man suddenly pours the contents of the decanter on the ground. I feel alarmed at this and immediately chuck mine too."
Polo-headed men and entwining strands dream
Dream from childhood: "I am lying in bed in a white cotton nighty. I am a child. I become aware that beside me are two men with polo mints for heads. They are malevolent and loom over my bed peering at me. I am in the room and there seem to be filaments, like the strands from a spider’s web, attached to me, holding me down and restricting my movement. They are red like veins or seem blood filled. I feel constricted."
A dream of unfair blame
Dream: "I push a shopping trolley down a steep hill and it almost causes an accident. Three angry men beat up a man who they think pushed the trolley. I hide in a house and can see the attack through a window. The attackers leave and I go outside and see the man lying on the ground, he is almost dead. He is in a dip in the road. I do not want to admit my involvement as they would then attack me. They have covered him in black oil and his face is half-submerged in the oil. I wonder how to help him without letting my involvement in the near-accident be known."