This project presents a photographic documentation of a Lucid Dreaming Study at Swansea University, along with photographs representing the participants’ lucid dreams.
Lucid dreaming is a natural sleep phenomenon in which the dreaming person realises that they are dreaming, whilst remaining in the dream. They are fully conscious just like you are now, only they know everything they are experiencing is a dream. Like all conscious experiences, lucid dreams can vary in intensity. Some lucid dreams can feel as ‘real’ as waking reality, sometimes more real, and yet sometimes less.
The Lucid Dreaming Study looked at combining pre-sleep cognitive training with REM-sleep stimulation, to induce participants into a lucid dream.
Conducted at Swansea University Sleep Lab, participants underwent a brief 20 minute training period whilst lying in bed. Each participant then took a nap and, when they entered into REM sleep, the experimenters played audio and visual cues - flashing lights and beeping sounds - in the bedroom where the participant slept. The hope was that these cues would enter the participant's dreams and signal to the dreamer that they were dreaming – like a signal from the the external world shouting "hey - this is a dream!"
I (Guy Wilkinson, photographer) interviewed the successful participants about their lucid dreams as soon as they had finished the study. I then spent just over a year re-imagining their lucid dreams into photographs.
Whilst researching online ways to go about recreating these dreams as photographs, I saw that several real life events were happening which represented some of the participants’ dreams perfectly. I attended and photographed these events as a means to represent the participants dreams in a very real and documentative way.
This sequence of events inspired me to progress with the project in a way that kept all the photographs representing the participants’ lucid dreams as real and meaningful as possible, as it paid respect to the term synchronicity. Defining that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related, the term was first introduced by the historical psychologist Carl Jung, who was and still is today a highly respected figure in the world of dreaming psychology.
All the photographs in this exhibition that represent the participants’ lucid dreams are real on one level or another, and hold a level of synchronicity to either the participants’ dream directly, or to me as the photographer personally.
The first part of the exhibition presents participants getting ready for the study.
The second part of the exhibition presents portraits of the participants during the study, along side photographs representing their lucid dreams.
All the photographs documenting the study are digital and all the photographs representing the lucid dreams are film and hand printed - minus one, ‘The Void’, which due to technical reasons is digital.
Personally, I (Guy Wilkinson) have found lucid dreaming to be very profound and transcendent, so I set this project up to be a non-profit fundraiser for the Dream Science Foundation.
The Dream Science Foundation funded the Swansea University Lucid Dream Study that this project covers.
All funds raised during the exhibition at the bar for beverages and post cards were donated to the Dream Science Foundation, helping them to fund future studies on sleep and dreams.
A total of just over £200 was raised and donated. Thank you to all who made a purchase during the exhibition.
The Exhibition for this project was open to the public from August the 8th, till August the 18th and was hosted at the Undercroft Art Gallery in Norwich, UK.
Liz Marie Bray
Claire Furness and family
Zana Clare Josephine Wise
Norwich Air Museum
Rainbow Wholefoods Store