Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (Summer/Fall, 1997). Dream Sharing in Cyberspace Continues. The Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter 14(3&4).

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Dream Sharing in Cyberspace Continues 

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


ASD Links


Dream Cyberphile


IRC and Chat Rooms

Most of the dream sharing online, volume wise, is done via email and bulletin or message boards.

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, re-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 ideology.

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 theme.

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 Networking room.

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 on.

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. rcwilk@dreamgate.com

This article may be slightly altered from its original form on the ASD Newsletter to conform to Web Format.