Explore your dreams while still awake at 'Dreamer, 3:45am'
The Lotte Museum of Art in Jamsil, southern Seoul, has turned itself into a place of dreams. Its newly opened “Dreamer, 3:45am” exhibition presents artworks by five teams, each formed by a modern artist and a musician. The artists of the two genres have joined forces to fill the exhibition with surreal visuals and sounds like those we would experience in our dreams while deep asleep.
“The theme of healing and consolation during the Covid-19 pandemic is now too cliché,” said the exhibition’s curator Koo Hye-jin. “So we tried something unique by teaming up musicians and modern artists to display their ideas of what a dream looks like.”
The dark exhibition space is like a maze, making it feel as if you are trying to navigate though a dream. Still, the five artworks continue, smoothly flowing along the path in the same way dreams drift from one to another overnight, hovering between the good, bad and bizarre.
“Dreamer, 3:45am” begins with “Nevertheless, Dreams Come True” by dance group Ambiguous Dance Company and sound artist Lim Yong-ju, which sets the tone with its eccentric imagery. The work consists of videos displayed on large LED screens that show dancers, edited to have their bodies dance as fragments — such as a floating head, a dancing headless torso and spinning legs all moving to the rhythm of Lim’s “Dream of Signal,” a repetitive beat that makes you feel stuck in the loop of a never-ending dream.
The videos reappear intermittently as the exhibition progresses and get stranger each time, with dancing body parts collaged together and added colorful geometric patterns. But the bizarre imagery becomes comfortingly familiar once we think about how what we see in our dreams often make no sense at all either, and we often dream or remember our dreams in fragments like the compartmentalized body parts.
Next is a dimly-lit, claustrophobic hallway that seems to have come right out of a horror movie. Music by composer Code Kunst creates an anxiety-inducing ambience, with the sound of footsteps, pounding water drops and other unintelligible noises. The nerve-wrecking walk down the hallway gives an experience of what a nightmare would feel like while being awake.
But once you turn the corner, a brighter albeit still dreamlike space appears, like a transition from a nightmare into a much more pleasant dream. Artist duo Fabrikr’s installation “The Shape of Dreams” features large clay hoops that slowly swing side to side to calming music, creating a sort of vortex that leads to another dream and representing the multitude of layers that our dreams have.
Next, London-based art studio United Visual Artist (UVA) and Berlin-based DJ Peggy Gou present “Chaotic Times,” in which the UVA’s installation “Vanishing Point” shoots laser beams through a hazy room to the trance-like rhythm of Gou’s electronic dance track “Green Light,” embodying the unconscious dream space in which time and space are seemingly undefined.
After the intense EDM beat, visitors can zone out while looking at media art studio Silo Lab’s “Yoonseul,” which translates to ripples shining in the light, an installation of LED lighting on the ceiling reflected on a wide pool of water. In the dimly-lit space, visitors can stare at the sparkling surface of the water as if they are watching a campfire, calmed by the accompanying soothing melody by music producer duo Frankinsense.
Finishing up the meditative experience, visitors can then view an interactive artwork by art duo Studio Artech and music producer Yun Seok-cheol. In their installation "Eternal Journey," motion sensors and touch screens detect the movement of the viewers and project colorful graphics on the wall which reflect their motions.
“We wanted to express how our dreams are influenced by our experiences in real life, and visualize the connection between our conscious and subconscious," said Park Mun-sok of Studio Artech. “Although it can appear in the form of unrealistic imagery, our real lives are very much reflected in our dreams, just like how the visitor’s motion shows up in the form of vivid graphics on the wall."
The other part of "Eternal Journey" features large LED walls that show various colorful patterns slowly flowing to the rhythm of Yun's music, representing the subconscious side of our dreams.
Just when you think the exhibition has come to an end, as if waking up from a dream, Ambiguous Dance Company’s video appears again. This time, however, the dancers’ bodies are all intact. The fragments eventually come together and form one whole body, like the memory of our dreams after we have woken up. This is also the moment that visitors come to understand why the odd video art with separated body parts is titled “Nevertheless, Dreams Come True" — everything ends up coming together.
“There are two kinds of dreams: the ones we have at night, and the ones we have when we are awake thinking about what we want to achieve in the future,” said curator Koo.
“Just like how the fragments of the dancers become a whole in the end, we wanted to convey the message of hope that we will eventually achieve our dreams and be able to see the results we want. Like the exhibition, some phases during the journey toward our dreams may have ups and downs, but eventually it will all work out. Via the topic of subconscious and surreal dreams, the exhibition ends up teaching a lesson about real life."
“Dreamer, 3:45am” will run until Jan. 2 next year. Visit www.lottemuseum.com for more information.
BY HALEY YANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]