'Elsewhere' by Patricia Casey
Where are we when we dream? Where is our consciousness? Safe in our bodies or elsewhere? When we sleep our subconscious takes over and through our slumber we are able to live other lives and to have experiences far removed from our conscious reality. Sometimes exhilarating, dreams can also be confusing and unsettling. This body of work explores the realm of our dreams.
There is much mystery as to the purpose of dreams. Neurophilosophers and psychoanalysts cannot agree whether: their function is restorative, or whether they provide an opportunity for learning and consolidation of memories. Are they a rehearsal for our waking lives? How do our brains distinguish between dreaming and waking thought? Like memory and particularly the memories attached to photographs, dreams do not track the truth reliably. We entertain the false, the fantastical and often the bizarre while we sleep.
Freud linked dreams with sexuality and Jung with archetypes. Many cultures interpret dreams as having particular spiritual or religious meanings that must be as used as guides for our day to day living. Some see dreams as an escape or even as a premonition of things to come.
This series consists of youthful dreamers and their dreamscapes. They wander through fantastical tableaus with friendly creatures or lie in states of repose far removed from every day reality.
Philosopher Roland Barthes described the photographic punctum as:
… the element which rises from the scene, shoots out like an arrow, and pierces me. 1
These photographic montages are richly coloured with glittering embroidery like tendrils of sleep, piercing and disrupting the photographic surface and enhancing the sense of the unreal. The act of stitching upon these images inverts Barthes punctum and this, together with shifts in perspective and composition unsettle the eye. They are beautiful scenes, yet we know they are not true – there is something not quite right. The viewer is uncertain whether the dreamers in these works are part of the experience of merely observers of the scene.
The photographic montages were made by combining landscapes with dioramas and specimens found in museums, in Sydney, Washington and New York. The static nature of these specimens adds to the sense of the unreal and uncanny. Elsewhere continues my ongoing research into memory, imagination and dreaming.
1. Barthes, Roland Camera Lucida (Reflections on Photography). Page 26
For more information about Patricia Casey, visit her website.