Electric Dreams

Dreams and Creativity in the Electric Theater of Cyberspace.

Richard Catlett Wilkerson

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Wilkerson, Richard (1999 September). Dreams and Creativity in the Electric Theater of Cyberspace. Electric Dreams 6(9). Retrieved July 13, 2000  from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams


Rising from a DreamTime before time began, dreams have provided an underlying matrix of creative inspiration to individuals and cultures for hundreds of thousands of years. These nocturnal inspirations have been revived in the modern dream movement. The new techniques and practices have led to an outpouring of dream inspired drawing, painting,, sculpture, collage, poetry, stories, myths, tales, theater, drama and other presentations. As soon as culture went online in the late 20th Century, it began presenting these dream inspired forms on the global digital theater.

The Global Digital Dream Theater

A new paradigm, a new consciousness, is needed to understand & create the world about to open in the 21st Century. Archetypal psychologist Stephen Aizenstat recently noted that all our attempts to create a rational world based on even the simplest notions cooperation and ecology have failed. What we may need to turn things around. Instead of imposing our values on the World, we may need to listen to what the World itself is saying, what the World itself wants. He suggested at the 1999 Association for the Study of Dreams Conference in Santa Cruz that Dream Movement may be in just the right position to teach people how to listen. People who attend to dreams know how to create something new and unexpected from a power that lies beyond the individual ego and the individual will. In pushing interpretation to its limit [imposing one expression upon a content] creative dreamers have also learned to not-interpret [allow oneself to become the content of the dream's expression]. This dance of creative cooperation allows a play to unfold that is often unexpected and novel, dramatic and significant to more than just the single dreamer. As this dance moves onto a global stage, new kinds of theater emerge and the classical boundaries of stage, theater, gallery, art museum, journal, book, person, village, community and place change. We now have place without location. Anywhere is everywhere. Distance collapses, and horizons merge. Dreams speak, write, dance and form part of the new digital matrix.

Dream Inspired Art Galleries

Dream inspired artists have taken to the Internet creating traditional galleries with pictures on the wall, and interactive pictures that talk about themselves and allow chat with the artist. Dreams and dreamer artists like feedback and engaging others. E-mail responses can be imbedded directly into an art piece, so that viewers who wish to write to the artists can do so immediately. Others have set up message boards that allow the viewer to post a public message or join an ongoing written discussion of the art.

The Granny Gallery, a project by Nancy Richter Brzeski, includes several works that focus on the evolving relationship between dream, artist and family members. The evolution of Brzeski's work can be seen in a brief glance on her index page, or in more depth in larger graphic reproductions. The viewing public enter into something between a catalog and a gallery. Brzeski includes a dream about her Hungarian grandmother, Dora Graubart, who inspired the many "Granny" pieces. Also included are biographies and notes about the art work & the creation process. A feeling of ancient rootedness occurs, offering a sense of deep insight into how the creative process emerges and grows from our dreams.

New URL:


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Alissa Goldring's Dream, Life, Art Gallery uses a revelation-across-time approach. With each new month a new gallery room focusing on a specific piece is opened. Each art piece is connected to a specific dream or dream series, as well as a life lesson. Each month a new article and graphic appear. Does the dream art illustrates the text, or is the text part of the graphicness of the presentation? Like a meditation on life itself, one can sit at this site, gain decades of perspective and at the same time achieve a quiet mind. [http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/goldring]

Epic Dewfall travels at night in his lucid dreams and searches for pictures on the dream walls. With some concentration he will remember a few of these upon awakening and then reproduces them on paper. The pictures then get scanned (digitally copied) and put in his online gallery. The background gallery itself is clearly an art piece as well. The World Wide Web gives Dewfall ability to work more closely with the staging environment and to change the set more often with less expense than a traditional gallery. Dewfall also happens to be a poet as well as graphic artist, and the text is mixed in as hypertext, meaning that a viewer may jump to a page with an entire poem. Dewfall's pictures and poems bring about an intuition that what is material shimmers in the foreground of a larger story, one that can be accessed best during a dream. [http://www.storm.ca/~lucid/]

The Dream Wave Theatre (not the same as Slow Wave) mixes text and graphics in a unique way to explore mythological archetypal mysteries of dreams. There is no attempt to categorically exhaust the possibilities, but rather a deep respect for those dreamy things that neither text nor graphics can circumscribe, but only celebrate in wonder. In a traditional gallery this is usually done by having a labyrinth of rooms. On the Web this is accomplished by turning graphics into buttons that, once selected, reveal a whole new area. On Dream Wave these new areas are meant to lead one more deeply into a particular theme. [http://www.dreamwv.com/uworld/theatre/index.html]

A creative approach taken by Jesse Reklaw has been to illustrate contributors' dreams in comic form and then add them to one of the galleries. The Slow Wave gallery includes weekly additions, a short dream strip each week plus weeks past. The Concave Up Gallery is more involved and connected with the offline publication of the dream comic Concave Up. With this approach, Reklaw has developed an interactive cyber-site that both feeds the Net and draws sustenance as well.

Linton and Becky Hutchinson's DreamLynx is one of the original feedback dream sites. They also accept dreams and distribute them to various artists for illustration. Those Illustrations are then put on the Web with the dreams. The dreamer remains anonymous, when they wish to, and the dream may also be put on a message board/bulletin board for others to comment. Joint projects between DreamLynx and Electric Dreams have expanded the simple post-and-comment into dream groups much like the ones researched by John Herbert. The dreamer may, during the course of the group, produce more art which can then be returned again to start the process over. [http://licensure.com/.dream/]

Dream galleries will be expanding and becoming more popular as people realize the low development and maintenance cost, the potential audience and the exciting new possibilities in multimedia presentations. And of course, these galleries are on Web sites that host a wide variety of dream sharing information, education, contacts and links to other sites.
[http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/resources Select "Online" and "Dream Art"]

The Digital Oracle

One morning I woke up and had the following dream: "I was with a dying friend. I was sitting by his bedside and he told me a dream [in the dream]. He said "I was in a room like a museum, except you could play with the art. I found some masks in there and realized I had donated them many years ago. I tried a few on and was concerned about how they might fit. " I asked my friend in the dream what he wanted to do with the dream. He said "I want to dance the dream."

This notion of dancing the dream struck a deep cord in me and I began a several year journey exploring dreams and their connection with drama. This eventually led me to Greece, where I visited the dream temples of Apollo. So much dreamwork is Apollonian, seeing from a distance. Even the techniques of dream incubation, of dreaming the proper dream to get in to see the oracle, were around seeing and vision. I found that part of the year, Apollo's dancing brother Dionysis was the ruler of the temple. At Delphi, we traced this switch back into the distant past. Apparently, before the Greeks were at Delphi (and before Apollo slew the dragon to take the temple as his own) there was an earlier culture. In this culture they had an oracle who lived high in the mountains of Parnasos, above Apollo's temple at Delphi. With the help of locals in the area we found the cave in these hills where the oracle was said to have been taken from. She was imprisoned at Delphi, surrounded by priests who interpreted her visions. The Greeks also gave names to the other deities found in her cave, which included among them one called Pan. Interestingly, Pan is said to have taught Apollo dream interpretation. The cave seemed to be the stronghold of a Dionysian like cult, with maenads that roamed the hills in groups and centered around the oracular grotto [korikian cave, Corician in Latin]. Apparently, dreams were first danced. Some of these became myths. But the Greeks separated the dance and turned it into a theater, splitting audience and participant. The mythic dream dances could then be controlled, but eventually lost all their juice and power. This is always a struggle in dreamwork as well. I found that my own dreamwork began to take on more drama, more enactment and less abstract interpretation. But it wasn't until the next year and I went online that the real theater for dreams I was looking for began to emerge. For more on Delphi and Dreams, see my Songs of the Oracle site at http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/oracle

Start your own digital dream theater

One of the aspects of shifting from the abstract interpretation of dreams to more theatrical interpretations is the loosening of the demand for the dream to be what I want it to be. That is, it no longer has to represent what I want it to. The dream-as-presentation takes on a life of its own. This is no where so true as the Internet. Dream images hyperlink to worlds without end. Dream texts are returned from the cybersphere with notes. Dream poetry floats in Cyberspace and inspires and provokes thought and action. Dream pictures shift through the electrosphere and mix, one moment a gallery, the next a cover for an e-zine, the next a downloaded poster for a protest march on the other side of the world. Soon you will be able to type in your dream and get a quick movie in return. The first movies will be awful, but funny and amuse us. Later they will be profound and amaze us. The flow of the dream will no longer be crushed by the morning sun.

Some places to get started:

Build a web site and post your dream with a drawing or photograph. If you don't like building sites, ask a dream web site owner to post your dream and picture. You will be amazed how many are willing to do this.
Send a dream into the Cybersphere. Post it on alt.philosophy or alt.dreams or alt.dreams.lucid
Share your dream as a valid piece of literature to an online e-zine or literary magazine.
Join the ASD DreamArts ezine and submit a dream inspired art piece.
Take a trip to Kinkos or your local copy center. Learn how to scan your art onto a disk in jpg or gif format so you can upload them into Cyberspace.
Find a magazine or e-zine online that doesn't have cover art. Offer them a graphic.
Get familiar with a graphics program. Some are free! Download Paint Shop Pro from www.tucows.com and illustrate your dream!
Take a dream graphic and "hotspot" it related sites. Different parts of the picture will send the traveler to different parts of the world, or perhaps another graphic that more deeply expresses that part of the dream. Build a dream dungeon online!
Take a picture of a dream inspired piece of dream sculpture. Take pictures from many sides and build a web site that allows the visitor to explore all the sides. Perhaps some of the side lead to journal entries about the dream as well.
Start a dream series, post a dream a week and allow others to connect their own dreams.
Record your dream and add ambient background. Turn this recording into a .wav file