Monday, May 10, 2010

Dreaming as Media

by Drew Martin

Dreams have an obvious parallel to media and the arts; most notably, film and surrealism...especially surrealist films. It seems, however, content aside, there are quality and resolution aspects that are more about the "content provider."

Some people have uneventful dreams, while others simply do not remember their dreams. I am always fascinated by the visual saturation and details of my own dreams. I never have physical sensations of the environment: wind or heat and cold, and I never taste or smell anything. While the sound in my dreams is typically nothing special, the visual details are hyperrealistic.

Four nights ago I had a dream I was trying to get into a grand sanatorium, which was being used as a halfway home/shelter but I was turned away because I looked too clean: I had on a suit, a crisp white shirt and a tie. I walked away from the large old building with vaulted ceilings and marble columns and noticed a brand new, multi-storied and modern, glass Bank of America built on top of it. The sight was so crisp that it looked like a high-end architectural 3-D computer rendering.

When I left, I went to a hardware store nearby and asked to see their doorknobs. These were kept in huge glass jugs, which were lying on their sides on a rack. The shopkeeper only showed me two. One was half of a cheap brass-looking model and the second was some clear plastic contraption with elaborate internal circuitry, which I inspected quite closely. It looked like a piece of laboratory equipment. The shopkeeper told me it was a "widow's" door knob. When I asked him what that meant he said that anticipated what a widow was thinking or looking for and lit up a red light that simply acknowledged that it understood, but it actually did nothing after that. It simply let the woman know that it knows she is entering her bedroom for a specific reason and that it comforted her with a kind of technological small talk.

The following night, when I was aware that I was in a dream, I decided to have a look around and see what was different about seeing in a dream versus seeing in reality. Dreams are not as controllable as one might hope. You can wish things into them but they are fleeting. The best I could do was to make may way over to a wall, twice, but it was an awkward maneuvering, like stumbling drunk or driving an old VW bus with loose steering.

The first time, I got right up to it and looked as close as possible. All the familiar wall details dissolved into what seemed like just a veneer of an electric the scene in the Matrix when Neo sees everything as layers of code, only in my dream that "force field" was more colorful and with a design that looked like chipboard. The second time, a few minutes later in the same dream, I made my way over to the wall again and I was able to get, what seemed to be, less than a centimeter away. Everything was crisp and in focus, no matter how close I got. I had macroscopic and microscopic vision, which makes a lot of sense since there are no lenses involved when you "see" things in your dreams.