Hypnopompia in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

Now open at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by curated by Dido Haas, is Hypnopompia, as exhibition by Cat Boucher. The title refers to the state of consciousness leading out of sleep (and not to be confused with hypnagogic state. The latter is associated with moving from wakefulness to sleep, and is referred to as a rational waking cognitive state).

Hypnopomia is more an emotional state of credulous dreaming, influenced by almost anything around us: noises, scents, touch, which on waking can lead to confusion, dissociation from our surroundings and confused (to others) speaking. The hypnopompic state is sometimes accompanied by lingering vivid imagery, and some of the creative insights attributed to dreams actually happen in this moment of awakening.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

All of this is richly reflected in Cat’s images, which are quite stunning in their range. Among the 14 pieces on offer are monochrome images – perhaps reflective of the state experienced by around 12% of people, who only dream in black-and-white (a percentage, interestingly enough that has changed over the last 60-ish years: dreaming in colour was once a rarity reported by adults, and according to some researchers, the shift from “monochrome dreaming” to “colour dreaming” appears to be associated with the arrival and rise in popularity of colour television broadcasting).

Other images in this selection are presented in deep, vivid colours, perhaps reflective of the more vivid influence our surrounding can have on us as we move through hypnopomia to full wakefulness. Most, reflect not a scene, but a moment in time: bones of a fish; a face caught in sharp focus; a figure with legs curls and entwined, but seemingly without a body. In this they mirror how we so often recall our dreams – not as a continuous narrative, but as flashes of images and colour that we can only recall as a single, brief frozen moment, there rest having been lost as another stimuli causes the mind to discard the imagery and move on.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Hypnopomia

There would appear to be some plays here on the state of dreaming; one image seems to reflect an erotic dream – but whether it is brought about as a result of the brain processing actual events or simply the hypnopomic reaction of something, I leave to you to decide. There’s also an echo of the sepia tone so often loved by Hollywood directors when portraying dreams, while the clever use of vignetting can be said to both also reflect the Hollywood use of pinhole focus to convey dreaming and also, as noted above, as a metaphor for the way in which certain images in our dreams come into crystalline clarity and sharpness, imprinting themselves so strongly on our emotions, that the remain with us through our waking hours.

Evocative and captivating whether considered individually or as a part of the exhibition’s theme, these are stunning images – and all the more so given none are post processed; all Cat uses to achieve her completed images in the SL camera floater, within its colour and filter options, and suitable windlights.

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