DreamTimeObjects was initially developed for a submission for Henrik de Vries Stipend 2022, though I was nominated I didn’t win it. But I had already sank quite some time in the installation and decided to go further with it anyway. To me it feels like a milestone-project. One of the works that binds several categories and years of research together and finally it shows what all the effort was for.
DreamTimeObjects is an installation about objects dreaming and forming their own shape. Loosely based on aboriginal mythology where everything was one cosmic soup once and over time dreamt about their own existence and shape therefor shaping themselves. I want to illustrate this by outfitting an object with AI, stylegan3 is used in this particular case trained on custom curated datasets. I chose Stylegan3 for two reasons the first is simple, it is well documented and fairly easy to work with for people outside computer science training. Second, and more important, is that the structure and architecture of this AI is very similar to how the brain produces dreams. The brain cannot ‘make’ anything from nothing, it can only synthesize dreams, thoughts, ideas from things it has experienced or seen before. Try to think up a new color, it is quite impossible for all the colors you will come up with will be a derivation of already existing and seen colors. So by outfitting a seemingly dead or inanimate object like a stone with AI trained on a dataset of stones the AI will dream about stones. To make a connection between the object and the AI I decided to do resistance measurements, the same technique used to measure EEG and ECG, on the object which will give the starting seed for the AI to produce a dream.
I think it is very mesmerizing to be surrounded by these dreams dreamt by the object in the room. To me it is a very visceral experience, almost like watching an animal for the first time and you’re not yet sure whether it is friendly or not. Due to this ambiguous feeling of safe or unsafe the whole becomes quite intriguing and mysterious. Like remembering a lost memory or finding back a totem of once great personal experience.
The ultimate goal within this project is the audience also being able to translate their ECG data into these transformative dreams. It is within the scope of this project that human and object can break out of their form and melt together.