WORK 02 / THE SELF / DREAMS

DREAMS 01/12 Every day I remember approximately three dreams. The amount can vary from 1 to 12 daily dreams according to how regular my day was. The more a day is regular, the more I dream. On average every month I write approximately 100 dreams in a 45 by 60 centimeters page of a book which at the end of the project in 2040 will comprise of 43.200 dreams, making it perhaps the largest dream diary a person has ever recorded. Additionally there are no recurrent dreams in my record, making it even more diverse. There are however similar dreams especially frustrating ones such as those relating to missing an airplane, or being almost unable to catch a train, or still panicking about distant fears like my high school exams or my mother psychological aggression. Few dreams are also turning points such as those in which I make peace with a friend I have left abruptly such as my Polish buddy. I can also wake up crying about a dear person I have not really been able to morn in real life such as my maternal grandfather whose funeral occurred without my knowledge (Fig. Screenshot of a month of dreams. Notice how the length of each line corresponding to a dream is approximately the same. Originally the line height between each dream was reduced so that the final result would be a cubic publication of 43,2 by 43,2 by 43,2 centimeters).

DREAMS 02/12 Not only I do not use my mother language to write my dreams but also the very free-ware editor I use has limited spelling capabilities. As a result the grammar of my dream diary is that of an expatriate with an average command of the language. In this respect I do not want any further editing; the way the dreams are written reflects my social condition. The font I selected to write my dreams down id Bookman Old Style size 11. Each dream is on average 288 characters long and is usually made up of three sentences. The first sentence is used to contextualize the dream by putting the dreamer in a particular location doing something such as walking across a meadow at sunset. The second sentence of a usual dream highlights a problem, something that the dreamer experiences that creates a certain level of suspense such as seeing a barking dog approaching. The last sentence usually resolves or puts an end to the suspense unless the actual dream is a nightmare. Following is a dream randomly chosen from the archive: "I am with an old friend going under a long tunnel. He starts telling me how he has caught the new American president editing his own encyclopedia page on-line. The edits are actually written on the white painted tunnel and he uses his fingers to remove parts of it even though it gets quite dirty" (Fig. Screenshot of the editor used every morning to write the dreams down).

DREAMS 03/12 In order to remember my dreams, I make extensive use of the classic art of memory technique used by ancient Greeks and Romans to remember speeches. As soon as I wake up, almost as if automatically I recall my dreams, likely the morning dreams which are by tradition considered the most prophetic. I then immediately create a mental image composed of different symbols representing the different dreams. This allows me to store them until I have time to write them. If I don't have the time to write my dreams down in the morning I am likely to whisper the content of my dreams for better remembering. This technique only works if I can actually hear my own voice. If the dreams are not whispered and I only repeat them in my head, the content of each dream is not likely to be memorized to the end of a day. In most occasions then I write my dreams early in the mornings but in some occasions this might not be possible especially when I am traveling and I might have to adapt to a more irregular schedule. (Fig. Picture of the sketch showing a mental figure I created in order to remember twelve dreams. The actual mental image is a creative process in which all the various elements ought to be well interconnected and rather physical in order to become more memorable. The writing of the dreams can be in this respect the most time consuming work I have to daily update).

DREAMS 04/12 I kept a dream diary since 1996 when I was 17. Initially my dreams were written in Italian on booklets I made using recycled paper, such as the discarded paper I would find in trash bins next to the copy machines of my art school. Given the low quality of this paper, these written dreams have almost disappeared. At this stage also I did not have so much of a format and went often into lengthy details. These going into descriptive details is likely omitted in my current repertoire. Also while an art student in Vancouver, I experimented with dreams in public performances. On one occasion I locked myself in the library window of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. After waking up I wrote my dreams on the window and later I invited passersby inside it to interpret my dreams with them. With time my dreams became less vivid especially getting used to live in more domestic settings, removing from my dreams all the urban and natural landscapes so present at the beginning. Also I noticed that the more I am physically active the vivid are the dreams (Fig. Picture of one of several archival boxes in which my early hand written diaries are stored. Initially I was also keeping up the tradition of first writing in Italian the dreams in an actual diary and then digitized them in English. Later I switched entirely to type them directly on my laptop).

DREAMS 05/12 Only since I was 24 years old I began digitizing my dreams and including them as part of my project. Initially I tried to combine the dreams with the photographic record of my activities trying to append each dream onto the activity that might have inspired it. Soon however I decided to keep the dreams as a separate work, allowing readers to make free interpretations comparing the dreams with other works of the project. Also my dream writing was much criticized by my American curator friend Jason Waite who did not find it professional enough to be exhibited in an art context. As Waite suggested me to give up my dream project all together, I held on to it and attempted to set up a way to both categorize and retrieve my dreams. I the developed an interface with the help of my Austrian student Sebastian Gassner. The interface was based on four categories with which I could visually label using a set of 16 icons per category the time and the place in which a dream occurred but also the people involved and the kind of dream. The interface worked as some kind of net-art work but was later dismissed to maintain all the various works of the project exclusively chronological as different languages of the same life-time (Fig. Screenshot of the icons with which each dream was labeled and with which it could have been retrieved).

DREAMS 06/12 Contrary to common belief, it was not so much my photographing or filming activities infringing my private life. In 2009 a Swedish journalist wrote about my solo exhibition at the Uppsala Art Museum. Having put an emphasis on my sexual dreams, my Swedish wife grew indignant. As we received news of the article while living in Shanghai, she forced me to completely give up my project and no longer talk about it nor exhibit it. While I saw that an uncensored account of my dreams was yet another way to portray life especially as it is affected by the media, my wife at that time would not tolerate any more such scandals. As a result not only I had to keep writing my dreams in secret, in the bathroom or in the busy Chinese metro typing them on my Nokia phone, but I had to completely disappear from the public until when my new girlfriend in 2013 suggested me to get back on-line (Fig. Picture of a 2007 exhibition shown at the Interactive Institute in Stockholm. Here I used microwave dishes surrounded by RFID tags and toy cars underneath them. The dishes would then bump randomly against a reader creating a narrative on a screen. Since the beginning I have been fascinated with the idea of dreams themselves generating quasi-infinite narrative fragments of almost any situation imaginable. These fragments can make up the ingredients for any possible narrative).

DREAMS 07/12 Over the years I have been recording my dreams, I observed how technology is becoming increasingly more invasive. While everyday life has become dominated by screens, in turn also the remembering of dreams becomes more difficult. Generally I try to abstain from using screens particularly at night, especially avoiding to substitute my dreams with the popular TV series of streaming platforms like Netflix. I have however noticed how certain media productions can in fact stimulate dreams. So if all the Hollywood predictable narratives kill dreaming, more manual and surreal and imaginative movies like the early Japanese animations of studio Ghibli can boost dreaming. This occurs especially when characters goes from one world to another, such as a character finding a door to an amazing world in her tight bedroom. Also well crafted video-games have had the same effect of stimulating rather than blanking my dreams (Fig. Screenshot of an 2001 web interface I developed to interpret my dreams while living in Vancouver. Already many years prior the beginning of the project I had been attempting to relate my dreams to my daily life, making it a habit to continuously photograph what captured my attention during the day so as to interpret the following morning what I dreamed at night).

DREAMS 08/12 Other factors I have been trying to abstain from in order not to have a blank night with no dreams is the use of alcohol, but also the too frequent change of places such while commuting or traveling. In this respect I have noticed that perhaps dreaming is somewhat of a traveling and if physical traveling is undertaken my brain does not need to dream/travel. This is also goes for the use of alcohol or drugs and the mental traveling one can do under their influence. From 2013 until 2017 I have frequently commuted around Europe thus compromising my dream remembering. Later between 2018 and 2021 my nights were recurrently interrupted by my two youngest kids, often interrupting my dreaming process, especially as I am more likely to remember early morning dreams. As strange as it may sound I can relate my practice of writing dreams to that of defecating; right after writing my dreams I usually defecate and the more smoothly I do it the more dreams I was in fact able to remember. Interestingly then also while traveling I have problems not only dreaming but also defecating (Fig. Screenshot of my dream performances. While an art student in Canada I used a library window to sleep, right my dreams down and conduct psychological sections with people passing by. If then I was inspired by Freud, later I found how my dreams are based solely on my reality).

DREAMS 09/12 I have noticed that I mostly remembered dreams towards the late part of my sleep. For example, going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 4 a.m. I can barely recall any dreams. Waking up at 5 a.m. however I still struggles to remember any dreams but at times can remember a few if my head is not too filled with other things. By waking an hour later at 6 a.m. I can remember at least three dreams and waking up as it is more seldom the case at 7 a.m. or later, I remember many more. One thing that facilitate dreaming and has unblocked my mind is describing past event to an old friend in the evening prior going to bed. Also staring the nocturnal landscape after a night spent indoor and relaxing the eye beholding the horizon can facilitate dreaming. Generally also I am aware that in antiquity the dreams occurred later in the sleep, thus in the early morning, were the most important to be interpreted and were considered the most prophetic (Fig. Screenshot of the dictionary of dreams I am creating as part of my editions. Here I particularly focus on those dreams with a stark presence of an element such as a book or a ring. I then use my pictures or pictures found on the Internet to demonstrate the relation of such dream with what has occurred to me during the day. In another edition I show how some dreams anticipate future occurrences and can then prophesize an event such as someone's death).

DREAMS 10/12 It is mostly in a vivid and primordial nature such as in the jungle of a Malaysian island, or in a small village in Southern India that I dream more naturally. In these tropical settings my brain fully relaxes and there are no tensions nor interferences such as the many radio frequencies circulating in the air of city environments. The hardest period of my dream writing was in 2008 in an old wooden house in the center of Uppsala in Sweden. Here the newspaper delivery man regularly woke me up every night. In the dead Scandinavian winter I kept waking up exactly at 3.29, exactly a minute before the newspaper delivery man arrived each day. It was only leaving Sweden and living in warmer countries that I recovered my normal sleeping pattern. Possibly also it might have been that during that time in the winter of 2008 I had back problems caused by all the commuting and the cold weather. Mainly tai-chi has helped me undergoing this issue. I have also noticed that I have gone quite far in training my brain to be aware of itself and this faculty might wake me up way too early. If this occurs, rather than laying in bed I stand up to update my project and might go to bed again after doing so just like a monk or a farmer (Fig. Picture showing how the book of dreams was presented at the Uppsala Art Museum in 2009. It was the only occasion I printed and exhibited my dreams).

DREAMS 11/12 In all the writing of my dreams I try to adopt a very universal language. I avoid to be specific with names of people or places and talk more generally about old friends and mountain apartments. In this respect my attempt is that of coming closer to what readers can themselves relate to. While I am aware that listening to other people dreams can be most boring I am more fascinated with the idea of the infinite variety of circumstances the human brain is able to dream of. Conceptually then I am intrigued with providing humanity with a record of quasi-infinite human situations as depicted in my dreams. Rather than giving any symbolic value to them, I see my dreaming as a filtering of the reality I experience and especially the increasingly more ubiquitous media I consume. In my dreams personal psychology comes less to give space to a mere filtering of the intrusive elements artificial environments abound with. In addition, I see dreaming as yet one of the strongholds untouched by the technological monitoring. While I am aware that a record of dreams per se is tedious and it ought to be refined as in the case of Akira Kurosawa's films on his dreams, my fascination lies in providing humanity with an entire record of dreams to freely juxtapose to the other records I provide (Fig. Screenshot of a detail of a month of dreaming).

DREAMS 12/12 In an ideal exhibition scenario the dreams should be presented in the form of a book located on top of the altar-like podium where the video of public spaces is shown. The reader than has an absurd priest-like dominance over the rest of the exhibition inviting him or her to recite what is most private. By doing so he or she would turn my private realm into their own, and through them into the realm of the public present in the exhibition. Moreover, if recited these dreams could sound as the singing or the vocals played along with the organ tunes of my recorded lyrics but also along with the other acoustics and visual effects performed within the main exhibition space. The actual reciting of the dreams is then turned from a very private and intimate record to a public revelation, almost as if the sins themselves of a person would be recited not within a confession booth to a priest but by a priest from an altar (Fig. Rendering of where the dream book should be located in a hypothetical exhibition setting. The book of dreams would be like a bible on an altar to recite out loud creating however no moral dogma but somewhat of a surreal non-sense or hyper-sense in relation to the other elements of the project being also played/performed such as the notations of the song I recognized. While playful the actual result could be quite cacophonous).