Published in 1973, Arthur Tress‘ photo book, The Dream Collector, features visions of childhood dreams and nightmares. Tress began shooting these dream scenarios in the 1960s, first speaking with children about their dreams and nightmares, then staging an interpretation of the children’s visions via photography. During the 60s, staged photography was a rather new development within the photography medium; most photographers were taking shots on the streets. Over the next 20 years, Tress developed his trademark black and white, mythological, surreal photography. The Dream Collector collection represents Tress’ particular style while expressing “how the child’s creative imagination is constantly transforming his existence into magical symbols for unexpressed states of feeling or being.”
“The children would be asked means of acting out their visions or to suggest ways of making them into visual actualities,” Tress explains. “Often the location itself, such as an automobile graveyard or abandoned merry-go-round, would provide the possibility of dreamlike themes and spontaneous improvisation to the photographer and his subjects. In recreating these fantasies there is often a combination of actual dream, mythical archetypes, fairytale, horror movie, comic hook, and imaginative play. These inventions often reflect the child’s inner life, his hopes and fears…”
The artist Alicia Martin Lopez gives form to her emotional demons through her darkly seen paintings; imagining the shapes and tones of oft-repressed memories and desires, her work dares to plunge into the depths of human fear. With their infinitely cavernous black eyes, Lopez’s disquietingly amorphous characters invite viewers into the nightmarish dreamscape of our own psychological narratives.
Lopez’s frightful beings inhabit a space outside the confines of time; day and night blur together as light pours in and leaks out of the scene without cause. The monsters are wildly unbound, floating in midair, drifting on water, or holding desperately to rock formations, toes clinched with uncertainty. Like thoughts that flood the darkest corners of the human psyche, the beasts may appear at any time in any place, haunting the mind’s eye without warning.
As soon as they rear their heads, however, the creatures are woefully repressed; one octopus-like animal sits confined in a cell, his crooked neck craning to accommodate a sickly grey face. Like our own private demons, Lopez’s creatures are starved of attention and psychic nourishment, kept bottled in the murky depths of subconscious memory. They each stare downward as if collapsed by the space above them, their bodies bracing against the weight of repression. A flying squid’s wings appear as if crushed by exhaustion; sea creatures’ bearded faces droop into impossibly still water, their sorrowful expressions reflected back at them.
These animals are a tangible reminder of memories and sufferings that refuse to stay buried; collapsing in upon themselves, they beg for our recognition. In granting form to formless worries, the artist suggests that our psychological demons are perhaps less fearful than they are beautifully, mournfully sympathetic. Take a look. (via Hi Fructose and Juxtapoz)
Here’s another parent and child collaboration (recall yesterday’s post). However, this one does not deal with the heart-warming ways of an autistic boy, rather it involves a sleeping baby, teddy bears, and tons of imagination… Queenie Liao, mother and photographer, creates Wengenn in Wonderland, a compilation of photographs that depicts a mother’s exploration of what her baby’s dreamland could possibly be like. Liao photographs her son, Wengenn, in his sleep- her sleeping son, however, is not the main focus point here. With a little creativity, some clothes, sheets and teddy bears, Queenie crafts a myriad of endearing scenarios in which her sleeping son participates in. Is little Wengenn dreaming what his mom thinks he is dreaming? Although we can never truly know what babies dream about, this little gem of a collection projects what we wish it to be: flowers and butterflies, colored trains, towers of books, bunnies and castles, and trips to the moon. Let the whimsy of this collection take over you; it feels good. After all you might just go to sleep tonight hoping to dream just like little Wengenn does in these photographs! (via My Modern Met)
Pia Bramley uses ink wash to make impressionist drawings that are marvelous embodiments of the word Dreamy. But unlike surrealist artists, who consciously try to render a dreamscape and thereby make us think more about the idea of said painting being an interesting dream, Pia’s just make you feel like you’re dreaming when you look at her work. Which we could probably all agree is a real treat. If they look familiar, you might have seen them in the New York Times or on plates from Anthropologie.
Raymond Lemstra is an artist whose work reflects a deep appreciation for both primitive art and the subconscious workings of the inner mind. He has a very distorted and humorous output of big-headed people with over-emphasized features, full of wonder and turmoil. We recently got a chance to catch up with Raymond to ask him what he is up to.
Many know seminal Japanese director Akira Kurosawa for his acclaimed Seven Samurai, but recently I stumbled across “Dreams,” surreal vignettes based off of his dreams. I like the idea of filming dreams- a little peak into his subconscious mind. Haunting, beautiful, bizarre.