REM 2012











REM 2012

Reality Check









“REM” is an abbreviation for Rapid Eye Movement, one of the key stages in the sleep cycle. It is a period of light sleep, a time between deep sleep and waking up. Indeed, during REM-sleep, the activity of the brain's neurons is quite similar to that during waking hours.  For this reason, it may be called “paradoxical sleep” and is the time when we are most likely to recollect our dreams.

The phenomenon of REM is captured by five series of photographs and these are described below.  All of the photographs are essentially documentary in style.  It should be noted that REM is also of course the name of a rock group.  While this project is not explicitly related to this, homage is paid through the title of one photograph: “Shiny, happy people”.

1.  Reality check

Twenty black and white photographs are presented which depict people dressed strangely, caught in bizarre situations or carrying out odd activities.  These events could easily be stuff of dreams, active imagination and fantasy but are not; they lie firmly in reality.  They could be considered as examples of the dream/reality paradox.

2.  Eden

“The Garden of Eden” is considered the “Garden of God” and the term “Eden” is thought to derive from the ancient words for “delight”, “lush” and “abundant”.  The series of twenty photographs is designed to reflect the concept of dreaming about “beauty”, or living in this “paradise”, using picturesque examples from the natural and the man-made world.  A sense of irony is presented in the photograph of the busy, traffic-lined Champs-Elysees in Paris.  This is far from the peaceful connotations of the Greek mythology meaning of  Champs-Elysees (Elysian Fields), which is the abode of the blessed after death.

3. Nightmare

Ghouls, ghosts, skeletons, death and terrifying beasts are depicted in twenty “horrific” photographs.

4.  Flashback

Dreams are often recalled as single events or images. Some images linger, dominate and repeat, while others are transient, providing fleeting memories.  Sometimes these “flashbacks” are brought together to form strange narratives..   From the dawn of mankind, trying to make sense of these dreams and flashbacks has preoccupied many a learned scholar and just as many charlatans.  Thirty photographs try to illustrate this dilemma of rationalization.  Each photograph is essentially random and singular in nature, being able to be considered on its own merits without context.  However, loose associations could be made, e.g, the reflection of the poster of Marilyn Monroe, the sculpture of the big lips and the sculpture of the heart could represent the concept of desire or love.  A further example is the retail sculpture of the large ice cream, the cow eating an ice cream, the colourful spades and the seagull which could conjure up memories of a holiday by the sea.

5.  “Wonderwall”

Graffiti, wall art, posters, shop frontages and advertising boards serve a range of purposes.  They may allow an individual to vent anger and frustration, they may entice customers for commercial gain or they may provide a vehicle for artistic expression.  In almost all cases, they represent a dream for the future: political change, recognition, self-satisfaction and financial security. The term “Wonderwall”, the title of the song by the rock group Oasis, seems highly appropriate to sum up these desires, all of which are based on representations in 2D media.  Ten montages of photographs are presented, each of which is grouped according to a particle theme.  The themes range from the nature of the subject matter depicted, e.g. faces, fantasy or animals, to the nature of the image-making, e.g. sticker graffiti or advertising boards.  The use of montages was chosen to show the diversity of thoughts that exist.   The individual photographs were taken in a large number of places: Newcastle, Exeter, Cambridge, Paris to name a few.  This demonstrates the pluralistic nature of the use of graffiti etc. as a form of expression.

All photographs were taken with digital cameras and processed digitally.

Click here or on REM 2012 on the left hand side of the screen to see the photographs.