Philippa Jones is welcoming final contributions to her three-year project of collecting and cataloguing the dreams of St. John’s residents.
“I’m trying and prove that there is some kind of dreamworld that is just hovering on top the real world and we are all going into it. However absurd and surreal it feels, that there is some kind of geographical location to dreams,” Jones said.
Jones is an interdisciplinary artist who has been living and working in St. John’s for the past eight years. She has a Masters Degree in Interactive Art and Design from University College Falmouth.
Her Mapping the Dreamworld of St. John’s project is an interactive art piece modeled after a scientific experiment. For the past three years Jones has been collecting information about what people are dreaming in St. John’s both in person and through her website. Ostensibly, she is using this data to investigate correlations between the content of people’s dreams and their physical location in the city.
“I like trying to prove that there’s a relationship between where you live and what you dream. It’s ridiculous, but that’s part of why I want to pose the question … it sets the wonder in motion. You can just wonder if it might be true and you can suspend your disbelief and just enjoy that it might be real because someone is actually investigating it as if it was,” Jones explained.
Mapping the Dreamworld of St. John’s is part of a larger umbrella project called the Ministry of Intuitive Research in Imagined and Actual Discoveries (MIRIAD). All of Jones’ MIRIAD projects play with applying an experimental process and scientific aesthetic to the realm of the imagination. For Jones this is a way of validating the nonsensical domain of the imagination.
“I think there’s been a push toward celebrating fact over celebrating possibility or wonder over things you don’t know yet … Forming this organization made the imaginary game-playing seem more legitimate but also kind of celebrated that it’s all a bit absurd,” Jones said.
Visitors to the Mapping the Dreamworld of St. John’s section of Jones’ website are invited to fill out a survey that asks for their postal code and a detailed description of a “recurring or otherwise dominant dream you have experienced.”
The form also asks the dreamer a series of questions about their dream, such as: “What emotion does the dream leave you feeling,” “What colour (if any), do you associate with the dream?” and, “Please select any genre you feel applies to your dream.”
Some of these questions are followed by a long list of clickable answers to choose from while others offer you a small box in which to type. So far Jones has collected almost two hundred dreams, but she hopes to collect more before she wraps up the project in the coming months.
“I think what surprised me more than anything was just how open people were. Some of the dreams people sent me were so raw and so emotional,” Jones said.
As an incentive to participate in the survey, Jones interprets contributors’ dreams as paintings that she posts to the site (without identifying the dreamer). The paintings are pen and ink sketches with water-colour paint over top. The translucency of the water-colour helps convey the ever-shifting, volatile Dreamworld Jones is attempting to pin down.
On the site, you can find a map of St. John’s with pin pricks that match up with the postal code of each submitted dream. When your mouse hovers over a pin-prick, a box appears with information about the dream it represents. On a second map, the pin-pricks have been coloured in differently according to the emotion the dreamer felt during the dream it represents.
“What I’d love, is for there to be so many dreams that the map would be covered in those little dots, and then you can kind of see colour correlations because the dots are coloured according to what colour people said was most dominate in their dream. So what I want to be able to see is, are there clusters? The corner of Prescott by Rawlins Cross, is that all blue?” Jones said.
When she closes the dream submissions, Jones is going to create a book based on the project. She is in the early stages of designing the book and is thinking about creating a double-sided journal. One half of the book would feature analysis of the dream data represented through charts and diagrams, the other half would have to be turned upside down to be read. The second half would contain dream descriptions accompanied by the paintings that illustrate them.
This layout style is sometimes called “a flipper” and it feels apt for a project that aims to open us up to the idea that a parallel universe is sitting on top of ours, accessible to us if we’re willing to flip the switch on our rational mind and recognize the value of suspending our disbelief from time to time.
To learn more about MIRIAD, Mapping the Dreamworld of St. John’s, or submitting your dream visit: www.philippajones.com/dreamworld-mapping