Brazil: Dream Maze
June 17, 2013 by Zoe
In May 2013, the Secret Cinema transformed a 14-storey office block into the dystopian world of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Guerilla Science’s Jen Wong tells us about constructing a maze of test tubes…
Building on the Memory Clinic that first appeared as part of the Barbican Brain Waves weekender in March, we collected G.O.O.D. employee dreams via a subsidiary research company, Deep REsearch and Analysis of Memories and the Subconscious (DREAMS) in the run up to Secret Cinema’s production of Brazil. With these, we created an accessible archive of dreams, mapping peoples’ remembered dreams into a maze-like structure, which we built with artist Evy Jokhova. The structure was based on three key areas of the brain that are involved in memory processing: the hippocampus, neocortex and amygdala.
All dreams are memories, something that we recall. We tend to remember our most vivid dreams that we have during the REM phase of sleep. When we’re dreaming our brain literally reshapes itself by rewiring and strengthening connections between neurons, our brain cells. Scientists think that dreams help us to consolidate our memories, make sense of the myriad experiences we face each day and keep our emotions in check. During dreaming the memories of what has happened to us during the day are filed with other past experiences for future reference. Dreaming is essential for maintaining our emotional health. It can be understood as a form of emotional processing – it’s not surprising that when you’ve not had enough sleep you wake up feeling irritable, and grumpy.
People who made it up to the 12th floor of the G.O.O.D. building encountered kooky dreamweaver Ms Loop, who led people through the maze. Loop allowed the retrieval of dreams and investigation of some of their meanings, to help people explore the dream activity of the 24/7 human mind.
People could also donate their own dreams to the archive.
Alongside the maze sat a dream analysis machine where users could shout their dream into a funnel to get a personalized dream interpretation.
Many thanks to the Wellcome Trust for their generous support. We would also like to thank artist Evy Jokhova and Broqwiem Ltd., Rose Walker, Tom Wood and Professor Mark Salter for their help on this.