A Half Remembered Dream – A Scenographic Lighting Installation

Perception is the medium whereby we experience reality, but continues during our sleep and creates its own reality. Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange about what we were experiencing. Scientific studies, psychology and the arts have analyzed dreams and dreaming. Methods of researching them may have changed over the centuries, but our knowledge and understanding of them has not developed much. However, there is one thing of which we are sure: dreams are not real. It is intriguing that even though more 80 percent of our dreams are not happy, we still think of them wistfully and longingly.

To have an understanding of dreams and dreaming, we have to investigate how our sight functions and how the perception of light is one of the keys to our experience of them. We see because light, in different degrees of intensity, penetrates our eyes. Awareness and perception occurs through intricate electrical and chemical processes, yet it seems straightforward that when we open our eyes, we see. The reality of our world, of what we believe is real, depends on the information of streaming lights. But what we see is as real as the starlights in the night sky from stars that are centuries dead.

The installation provides place for the visitor to contemplate through the sensual and orchestral journey of light and music. Credit: CY WONG

The installation provides place for the visitor to contemplate through the sensual and orchestral journey of light and music. Credit: CY WONG

This simple fact of optical illusion has inspired thousands of composers, filmmakers, poets, novelists and artists. It makes us start to question if we can trust what seems so visibly real to us.

When dreaming, we experience a reality that may come from very different sources, just like starlight that needs time to travel. We conceptualize dreams to be a sort of a reflection of our thoughts, emotions, wishes and experiences. We all know that dreams are not real, but we all somehow care about them and want to know more about them, regardless of whether they’re good dreams or bad. We do this because it allows us to go beyond our daily lives in which we have to respect norms and rules. In dreams, the world is often topsy-turvy and free. This inspires us to release our imaginations and reflect on our passions, fears and desires.

The Installation Device and its Objective

Through research on dreaming and the function of light in this mysterious process, Chiyung was inspired to create this installation titled, “Half Remembered Dream.” It synthesizers a series of conceptual elements into a dreamlike scenographic visualization.  “Half Forgotten Dream” is a walk-in reinvention of a contemplation chamber that translates inner experiences into light. Through his research on light influencing brain function and perception while we are asleep, he was inspired to develop this project. It is this invention of a symbolic reconstruction of a contemplation chamber with “Half Forgotten Dream” that reflects Chiyung’s specialization in working with light and space.

The façade of the installation offers a 14 minutes visual and musical experience to see how fluidity of light could be and how it affects the ways we see our world. Credit: CY WONG.

The façade of the installation offers a 14 minutes visual and musical experience to see how fluidity of light could be and how it affects the ways we see our world. Credit: CY WONG.

Chiyung emphasizes the theatricality of installation conventions and the importance of the passive-active participation of the visitor. He introduces materials that visitors touch and feel involuntarily. For instance, the sand field the visitors walk on when entering the installation acts as a symbol of the uncertainty and fluidity of dreaming that never has a defined shape or form. The geometric and minimal light sculptures hanging at the center not only a represent the intricate nervous system, but also the idea of the twisted physics of dreaming – a topsy-turvy mirrored world. The black rope – painted with invisible paint that only be revealed when a UV light is on – is a physical representation of neural oscillation corresponding to the layers of our (sub)consciousness only revealed when a dream is being experienced.

With this installation, “Half Remembered Dream,” Chi-yung orchestrates the different elements and synthesizers the scenographic techniques of light, sound, and music into a sensual experience for the visitor to open their senses and be inspired.

You can find more videos and images about the Installation here.


2014-07-09 12.29.35Chi-yung Wong (CY WONG) is a media artist whose work concentrates on the art of light. It is a mixture of technology, popular culture and theatrical techniques. His works focus on the relationship between light and people and how this relationship opens up in both visual and theatrical arts. In his pieces, he applies theatrical lighting techniques to dictate rhythm, intensity and color. It is the manipulation of these factors that induces visitors to re-perceive surrounding spaces through the intervention of light.

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