Desiring the Unconscious
When she represented Croatia at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, Kata Mijatović designed a network platform and interface that we like to call the pool of dreams, where in anyone in the world can deposit their own dreams in their native language via the link www.arhivsnova.hr. The ultimate goal of the project is a utopian vision of accumulating therequisite amount of dreams to flood the pool, that is, to causea massive overflow of the repressed subconscious into the realm of conscious life. The affirmation and inclusion of the subconscious as a neglected potential and aspect of human life into the realm of everyday life, according to the artist, is the only possible way of achieving a harmonious and balanced society as a precondition for saving the civilization that is destroying its own world in plain sight. This stems from the pragmatic anthropocentric conceptthatreason is an irresistible force when it comes to subjugating the natural world, and most importantly, human nature itself. In fact, the prevailing contemporary approach of humans towards reality completely excludes its oneiric perception that weare immersed in for at least a third of ourlives, dreaming of worlds unrestricted by adopted cognitive methods or even physical facts. Years before, and now long after her exhibition at the Venice Biennale, Kata Mijatović’s artistic production has been and still is dedicated to the task of spreading awareness of the importance of the subconscious through the presentation of collected dreams using various artistic procedures and disciplines such as performances, video, installations, and an interactive, interdisciplinary and inclusive artistic practice.The presentation of her VR project The Field in Split is still fresh in our mind, produced in collaboration with MARTA, a mixed reality art project of the media department at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf. Equipped with VR headsets and an umbrella, the visitors were immersed in anenvironment of a ploughed, brown and desolate field in Slavonia on a rainy day, with dream records taken from the archive hovering above them. Navigating between the dreams was facilitated by umbrella movements, while dreams appeared ready,upon activation,to eventually fertilizethe bare fields, like the fecund rain, with seeds of some better, more balanced reality based on the inclusion of dream energy.
The Kula Gallery presents the latest variation of the reification of dreams taken from the accumulated digital pool. White Noise for Black Dreams is a descriptive title of the kinetic light installation that brings together two rotating cylinders, moving in a mutually opposite direction. The cylinder platesare made of black solid material with laser cut-out descriptions of dreams that have already been dreamt and are taken from the archive.Through the dream texts,a light source radiates from the centre of the cylinder projecting them onto the gallery floor, forming patterns that spread concentrically around the cylinder at a uniform rotation speed. The texts are illegible. It is assumed that their content is mentally absorbed by the perception of light propulsion on a subconscious level. The hypnotic atmosphere is further enhanced by the work’s soundstage that is emitting the so-called white noise, that is, sounds tuned to a target frequency that is conducive to falling asleep. As always in Kata Mijatović’s works, apart from their visual and atmospheric quality, the basic intention is to encourage the process of general awareness of the importance of dreaming or to instruct the audiences to pay more attention to their own dreams.
According to the artist, the installation is inspired by the so-called Dreamachine, invented in 1959 by the British artist Brion Gysin. His Dreamachine is a hollow cylinder with mathematically precisely spaced geometric cut-outs and a source of light in the centre emitted at a frequency of 8 to 13 Hz. This frequency mimics the so-called alpha waves that occur in the brain just before we fall asleep or during meditation. Gysin’s cylinderturns around on a gramophone turntable, and the stroboscopic flashes of light penetrating through the slits are to be seen, that is, received with the eyes closed.In addition to appropriating Gysin’s machine, and facilitated by the properties of the Kula Gallery, in the realization of this work the artist has also formally and substantively quoted her installation Desire from 1994. In the material sense, Desire is made-up of a circle, five meters in diameter, filled with a fine even layer of rock salt, in the centre of which is a half-full glass of water. The glass is now replaced by rotating dream-machine rollers in the centre of the circle, while the dream texts are projected onto the salt. On a semantic level, desire in this installation refers to the civilizational need to be immersed into the subconscious as an existential need.
Besides raising awareness of the realm of dreams, that is, connecting the conscious and subconscious levels of the human being, Kata Mijatović’s projects described here in havean additional goal. The collaboration with scientific institutions or the use of appropriated and modified technical solutions, both concurrently and practically, point to the need to combinewhat todayare generallydivided creative, intellectual and technical activities into the artistic one, which means creating or producing an aesthetic object or act without a utilitarian purpose on the basis of intuitive stimulation, as well as the scientific one, which includes the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experimentation with the ultimate goal being application in everyday life. Combining these two dimensions through the collaboration between artists and teams of scientists is increasingly seen not only as a guarantee of further civilizational progress, but also its orientation towards the holistic development that encompasses all aspects of human creativity and interaction with the natural environment. Mapping the area of unconscious creativity is a prerequisite for awareness and inclusion of unrestrictive activities as a possible breakthrough or shortcut in the conception and realization of visions that determine our reality and future. The prolific oeuvre of Kata Mijatović, inspired by dreams as the starting positionfor conceiving art projects, fully confirms this thesis.