Richard C. Wilkerson
Last year I began a History of Dream Sharing In Cyberspace and covered the
first telecommunication links and how e-mail groups have evolved from a desire to share
dreams to sophisticated processes linked with education and international attention. In
the last issue, dream sharing as a spiritual practice was explored. In this issue Chat
rooms and IRC are mentioned briefly before jumping into the topic of dream inspired art
galleries on the Internet.
Electric Dreams Online Resources Page
IRC and Chat Rooms
Most of the dream sharing online, volume wise, is done via email and bulletin or
A popular but less formal mode of dream sharing is Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. IRC
provides a group with a real-time screen that allows for several conversations via text to
take place at once. As soon as one finishes typing, the message is displayed on everyone
else's screen that is participating in the chat "room". Thousands of rooms are
open at any specific time and anyone who connects can create a topic room in a few
seconds. One can use real names or pseudonyms. People from around the world can connect at
the same time and give a sense to the participants that they are all in the same space.
When everyone leaves, the room disappears.
The advantage to IRC dream sharing is that there is immediate processing of imagery
which leads to more emotionally toned sessions and the sense of the person being
"there". I have not found any research on dream sharing on IRC, but participants
generally report that the meetings are valuable to them. Fred Olsen mentioned during the
1996 Berkeley conference panel on Internet dreamwork that some participants preferred chat
style sharing to face-to-face groups because they are anonymous and they didn't feel
public embarrassment. Favored techniques by these groups include non-directive
questioning, such as variations of Gayle Delaney's Interview Method, dream re-entry
approaches such as those of Fred Olsen and exploration techniques like those used by
Jermey Taylor. (For a sample session transcript in print, see Barbara Viglizzo's chapter
in Mark Stefik's Internet Dreams, 1996, MIT Press, 353-387).
These Chat Channels are also popular with the commercial online servers, such as
America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy and Microsoft Network, and have spawned some very
popular shows. On Compuserve, for example, Donna Campos host the Dream Studio regularly on
Monday Nights in the New Age Forum. Jeremy Taylor hosts the Dream Show on America Online
at Channel One in the Hub on weekday mornings. Ed Kellogg hosts Alien Talk, where
discussion of Lucid and other kinds of dreaming take place on the MSN, MircoSoft Network.
Often, these commercial shows chat rooms will combine with other resources, such as
bulletin boards and information file libraries, making for highly informative and
resourceful dream centers. The disadvantage is that only those who have subscriptions to
these specific providers may connect and join in the group. With IRC, anyone with a
connection to the Net and IRC software may join the group.
New forms of IRC are combining text with pictures. These forums will be covered in a
later Cyberphile, but briefly they range from using home video to selecting cartoon
characters as stand-in representations. Text is sometimes displayed in a cartoon balloon,
sometimes sounded out by your computer or replaced altogether by voice, approximating
teleconferencing. Because IRC requires a few extra steps than email or browsing the Web,
the popularity is mostly confined to a smaller number of users, often college students.
However, as IRC programs become easier to use and more integrated with browser technology,
dream sharing channels will increase.
An IRC Primer for all new IRC users offers useful information and pointers at
Another IRC Information File:
IRC Faq http://seas.smu.edu/~justin/irc.faq.html
Attention: Museum Closes Today At...Well, Never!
Just a couple of years ago the Internet could be fairly easily described as a computer
mediated communication network with pioneering virtual or online communities. Now
accelerated techno-digital advances and massive online cultural migrations have stretched
our imaginations beyond the ability to locate any unifying image or underlying logos. The
only distance we can gain seems to be that we can, for the moment, talk about the Net
being "In-there" (computers?) or "Out-there" (phone lines?). This
moment of separate peace will soon pass as the Net enters into our everyday life, our
cars, our kitchens, our medical exams. Surprisingly, the fear of the Orwellian "Being
Watched" has taken an odd narcissistic turn. Instead of trying to sneak around the
Eye that is Everywhere, we seek out the Eye everywhere, leap in front of it and hope we
are getting someone's attention. The more successful you are with this, the more
successful your Internet enterprise. Thus a strange re-sublimation occurs. It is like
finding out that there is a (nearly) free service that will duplicate all your letters and
packages, and send them to millions of people. Or finding that Carnegie Hall happens to
always have a free night for you to come on stage. Exciting. Then there is the reality
that these people will most likely throw your mail away without even looking at the
envelope, and the performance hall can be empty. Wait and minute later and everyone is
there again. Is the Net more like a Stage, a Post Office, a Library, or a Mall? Is it
public, or anonymous and private? The categories and boundaries keep changing, mixing,
Cyber-Dream inspired artists have taken advantage of the non-categorical,
open-to-the-public arena to create everything from traditional galleries with pictures on
the wall, to interactive pictures that talk about themselves and allow you to chat with
the artist. Just as in some Postmodern texts where the text talks to itself and boundaries
between author and reader break just long enough to enter the sublime, so too these new
expressions of dream inspired art open into the unknown.
Note: The word "graphics" is being used here to mean most pictorial
representations that are generally called a "picture". Viewing graphics on the
Web is limited by the size and power of you computer moniter, and realistically or
practically by the speed the Internet can deliver them to your computer. Most people won't
wait longer than half a minute for a graphic to be delivered. Imagine turning the page on
a magazine, and having to wait half a minute before the picture appears. Grrrrrr. A nice
quarter screen size picture can take this long to appear, often longer!
o The Traditional Gallery.
Because of the high rental price and difficult entry procedures of traditional street
galleries, the online art gallery can be very appealing to artists and museums. For
example, last year for the 1996 ASD conference in Berkeley, the artists and coordinators
built an online exhibit that mirrored the art show at the Claremont. After the conference
week was over, the online gallery continued as part of the ASD Homepage on the Web. Visitors who have
access to the Web can look over the first index page of art pieces and select to view a
larger picture. A new gallery for the 1997 Asheville Conference was also constructed and
will be available for viewing throughout the year.
Some artists from the 1996 show then expanded upon the salon gallery idea and formed
individual online dream inspired art galleries.
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. Thus the viewing public enter into something between a catalog, a gallery
and a journal.
Alissa Goldring's Dream, Life,
Art Gallery uses a revelation-across-time approach instead of an index. With each
new month a new gallery room focusing on a specific piece is opened.
Some other notable dream inspired galleries incorporating traditional gallery style
presentations include Epic Dewfall's Man Against
Eternity lucid dream gallery, Jesse Reklaw's Slow Wave and Concave up Dream Comics
Galleries, The Electric Dreams
Cover Gallery and the Fly-by-Night Communal Dream Magic Show.
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 the artist the ability to
work more closely with the staging environment and to change the set more often with less
expense than a traditional gallery.
The Electric Dreams Cover Art
Gallery uses the traditional approach to offer the magazine (e-zine) subscribers
the option of a cover for the monthly magazine. Subscribers may enter the gallery, pick
the cover they want and copy it to the home/office computer where it can be printed. With
this approach, there can be *several* covers for one month, and the subscribers may choose
among them, or save paper and not have a cover or printed copy at all.
o The Text & Graphic Gallery
The Web allows for text to be easily mixed with graphics on the display page. The
traditional display may include vital statistics about the artist and art, or become an
elaborate essay, short story or novel length book. Dream journal entries can be included,
or the graphics may become the background or illustrative of some idea, notion or
For example, in the Granny Gallery,
Brzeski includes a dream about her Hungarian grandmother, Dora Graubart, who inspired the
many "Granny" pieces (See Dream Time Fall 1996, vol 13 #3 p.12). Also included
are biographies and notes about the art work & the creation process. A feeling of
ancient rootedness occurs, and a sense of deep insight into how the creative process
emerges and grows from our relationship with the dream garden.
The Alissa Goldring Art, Dreams,
Life Gallery uses a more illustrative approach, with each piece being connected to a
specific dream or dreams series, as well as a life lesson. Each month a new article and
graphic appear. Does Goldring feel the dream art illustrates the text, or is the text part
of the graphicness of the presentation? Like a mediation on life itself, one can sit at
this site, gain decades of perspective and at the same time achieve a quiet mind.
Epic 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 a whole poem from another
page with only a quote. The mixture amplifies the experience of the Man Against Eternity Tour as Dewfall's pictures and
poems both bring about an intuition that what is material shimmers in the foreground of a
larger story which can be accessed best during a dream.
The Fly-by-Night art gallery was a collection of club member's dream inspired art
combined with short essays by each of the artists about their connection with dreams and
the art. The gallery was within the context of the FBNC ideology that dreams have an
unexplored, even fun side that transcends any attempt to turn them into tools. The mixing
of biography and art allowed Magallón to quickly build an area around which several
artists could unfold variations on a single theme.
The Dream Wave Theatre (not 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
o The Interactive Gallery
Even the most self-inspired of dream artists like feedback and communication about
their work and dreams. The primary communication tool of the Internet, email, can be
imbedded directly into the gallery, 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 right at the site. These
tools have been used creatively in the dream inspired galleries.
The Granny Gallery, the Dream, Life, Art Gallery, the Dewfall and other galleries have
email feedback systems and openly ask for comments and discussions. The gallery owners
report that even with advertising on the Internet search engines, that comments are few
and far between. Passive galleries, though open to the world, have to find novel ways to
attract the attention of online art and dream concerned netizens, a fate that most dream
related projects have in our culture.
Alissa Goldring has been exporting her monthly Dream, Life, Art additions to magazines
and combining offline and online gallery exhibitions. Dream Wave has been conducting
presentations and working national dream networks to get attention for their site.
Linda Magallón posted a painting on a page on the Fly-by-Night Gallery (the Magic
Flying Carpet) to elicit dreams around the globe during the 1996 Berkeley Conference and
then posted the dream responses on a large wall length art piece at the Claremont
A creative approach taken by Jesse Reklaw has been to illustrate contributor's dream in
comic form and then add them to the one of two 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 a 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, also accepts dream and distributes 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.
o The New Technology Gallery
Most of the new technologies are not being employed by dream inspired art galleries,
but there are some exceptions. DreamWeb produced and hosted a multi-media Lucid
Dream Show last year titled "Through the Mirror, Beyond Dreaming". Dream Wave
uses audio recording in which selected pictures can "talk" and tell you the
dream in the dreamer's voice. Dan Cummings has a downloadable graphic dream explorer. The
problem with the newer technology is that faster Net delivery speeds are needed before it
becomes anything more than an novelty or nuisance.
One upcoming idea that is continually talked about for dream art galleries is how to
have the dreamer enter dream text at the beginning of the gallery which is then
automatically turned into a graphic image. The program will search though a library of
images and create a collage. Eventually these galleries will be able to produce a cartoon
and later a more realistic movie or the dream text. The images will be somewhat different
and more collective than the original dream, which may in itself be rewarding and
insightful. And the opposite transmogrification might take place first, where pictures
produce verbal or written text. Here, one will enter a dream inspired picture and the
gallery will pick out images and produce words. This technology is being developed on the
Net for the Search engines. Right now, if you want to search for text, the searching
machines are quite sophisticated and locate the word or phrase you want through a wide
variety of matching procedures. See for example C|Net's www.search.com site for example,
which houses dozens of search engines. Now techniques are being employed to search out
graphics by the identification of various graphic elements. Thus a search for
"horse" can look through thousands of pictures and produce the results in any
manner desired. The first programs will be more descriptive, but soon the simple text can
be tied in with, for example, past associations the dreamer has made to that image.
One of the original dream web sites, DreamMosaic, was an attempt to use web
technology in this way and links dream text to multi-media sites via the hyperlinks.
Though not intended as an art inspired gallery, many of the principle that will unfold in
the near future are contained in Dan Cummings vision of dreams in Cyberspace.
o Limitations and Invitations
The possibilities just continue to mushroom, but there are limitation as well. The
first is that any picture on a Web site can be easily duplicated. Pictures can be easily
copyrighted, but the enforcement of the copyright in Cyberspace is very time consuming and
expensive. Many feel this is the way it should be. The Net is still an experimental area
that needs the absence of proprietary territorializations for rapid development. In this
view, I duplicate and expand on your efforts, and then you do the same with mine. Others
feel Cyberspace is no longer a wild territory and it's time for it to obtain the status
and constraints of Statehood. In this view, all is property and subject to property laws.
The compromise has been two fold. Some museums put up a few pieces and then ask for
payment for deeper access. Others make the available graphics just nice enough to appear
attractive on the computer screen, but really not of high enough quality to steal and
duplicate. Since dream inspired galleries are still relatively unknown, the second option
is really the only reasonable one for artists wishing to protect their images from re-use.
Most cyber-artists, however, are glad to have their pictures used when they are properly
cited or references.
The relatively-unknown factor is the second limitation. It is hard enough to get people
to come to dream inspired art openings offline. Cyber-museums that don't directly
advertise pornography still await the day when people are crowding in to see what is going
The child-proofing of the galleries is another concern. Dream images are often of adult
nature. It is important for artists or gallery designer/producers to consider rating their
galleries so that child protection schemes like Safe-Net and Net-Nanny can
work to allow parents to guide their children into appropriate areas.
Finally, the speed with which a picture can be sent on the Internet is still humorously
slow and is hardly competitive with comparable technologies like TV and Video Taping. Just
ask Cyber- anthropologist Jayne Gackenbach what the average time an individual will spend
on any particular Web spot and she is will tell you "About five seconds." Thus
any long wait times on a site mean that the audience will get bored and jump to another
site before seeing your grand works. This limitation will eventually change, maybe by the
time you read this article.
Even with these limitations, I see the dream galleries expanding and becoming more
popular as people realize the low development and maintenance cost, the potential audience
and the exciting new possibilities in multi-media presentations.
In the near future (perhaps before this article is published?) Higher delivery speeds
will be re-making the Internet once again and offering dream inspired artists new brushes
with which to paint.
Next issue, the exploration of Dream Sharing on the Net continues with
how the latest technologies are combining with the most ancient of practices to stretch
the limits of dream sharing.
"Richard, I can't wait for the next issue and want to know everything
that is happening about dream sharing in Cyberspace!"
OK, drop me a line and I'll connect you to the dream community online. email@example.com