Dreamer's Dream (2022)

Dreamer’s Dream is the investigation of the self beyond and against norms. What we refer to as ‘self,’ comprises of not a single unit, but a set of interrelated experiences that are increasing in complexity and changing throughout our lifetime. However, for outsiders and those who are not part of the normative culture, such as immigrants, refugees, and non-binary selves in general, investigation of the self becomes even more crucial. The identity of an outsider seems like a dream state —a peculiar composition of cultural elements mixed with a series of social urgencies, such as desire, rejection, and satisfaction. Therefore, what I am proposing in this project is the state of dream as a mid-point between consciousness and the unconscious which allows the identity complex to either harmonize or collide and re-define itself in relation to the leftovers of culture and our social experiences.

This effort is not about construction of a new identity or reality, but to become self-aware. To be able to accept and recognize the self as it is and as it will be. This is a process that continues across time and repeats itself differently through transformation of the actual. And this is not very different from the process of dream. In fact, dreams are the repetition of difference, like Monet’s Water Lilies. We can dream when we free our-selves from the actual timeline, from its similarities and contraries, from its oppositions and contradictions. We dream of loved ones when they are away, or home when we are departed. We dream of things that are out of reach, things that are falling behind. And then we keep dreaming about them. They repeat over and over again, every week and every night. As if they want to return us back to a lost timeline, and to burn its memory back into our neurons.

This project is about a series of repeated dreams about artist's childhood and the memory of home, back in Iran. The installation includes five 3D printed masks that are covered by the handwritten transcription of artist's most repeated dreams about home. Each mask is equipped with an ultrasonic sensor that triggers a video piece that visualizes the particular dream that is written on the mask, and the viewer is able to witness those dreams only by holding their face inside each mask. The sensor reads the presence of the face and triggers the video through a Raspberry Pi that is installed on the video projector. The whole setup intends to be a stand-alone station attached to an adjustable monopod.

The inscribed mask tends to create a relay between the inaccessible object of dream and the subjective body of the one who dreams. The handwritten text on the mask, beautiful to look at but almost impossible to read, emphasizes the inability of interpretation. Looking through the mask/texts, it helps the viewer observe the manner in which dream/videos select certain cultural elements to unfold, while at the same time points out its way of willing other elements to remain in a state of latency. In concealing the face of the viewer while covered with the illegible text, the mask appears as a relatively nonrepresentational object: it allows the viewer more space and time to become disinterested and to expand her inner capacity for perception.

The presence of audience behind the mask is an invitation to become the dreamer, rather than simply observing someone else’s dream. What they see is not necessarily the creation or maintenance of someone’s identity, but the dissolution of that identity through dreaming. And as they put their face inside the mask, they become both the dreamer and his dream at the same time; or as Gilles Deleuze says, they become “the dreamer’s dream.”