By Prarthana Mitra
An interactive pop-art installation that claims to resemble the dream world opened its doors to New York’s millennials last month, immediately seeing an unprecedented footfall, despite an entry fee that is higher than the Louvre or the MoMA.
Here’s what happened
The Dream Machine is a nine-room gallery space created by Paige Solomon and Gary Johnson, in what used to be an abandoned retail space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The vibrant rooms of the installation are filled with neon signs, clouds, bubbles, ball pits, cotton candy, balloons and include a kaleidoscopic and photogenic wonderland that has attracted New Yorkers and tourists in huge groups.
Open to visitors for two months, the rooms titled Spin Cycle, Garden Room, On Cloud 9, a monochrome 2D transition room leading to the wildly popular Willy Wonka-esque hallway are all designed with props and backdrops. The rooms are tended to by Dream Technicians who have been strategically positioned to stoke your imagination and marketed to facilitate a dreamy experience.
The Dream Machine borrows a lot of elements from Yayoi Kusama’s famed Infinity Rooms with mirrors and joins a retinue of such installations like Random International’s Rain Room, Refinery29’s annual 29Rooms and the largely popular Museum of Ice Cream.
The Williamsburg installation makes use of psychedelic lighting and rainbow colours to make the attendee feel like they are shrinking, and floating tufts of clouds generate an illusion of flight, “a dream of someone else’s design” at an entry price of $38.
Why you should care
For starters, the Dream Machine offers very little space for imagination, consciousness and experience, but reserves a lot of it for Instagram fanatics who are flocking to the venue, in search of a perfect space for self-portraiture.
The Dream Machine not only serves as a symbolic encroachment of social media on the domain of human sleep but presents to the impressionable VSCO-hungry “art enthusiasts” a plasticised dreamworld where subjects like class war, gender struggles, difficult, repressed and traumatic childhood memories have no space. Immersive and Instagram worthy, the installation is a visual treat but intellectually vacuous experience, and in its dissociation from human dreams and the reality that informs it, runs the risk of becoming a dream come true for people vying for likes, followers and nothing more.
That said, the self-guided tour through the Dream Machine does enable its visitors to forget these aspects of reality for an hour. “Dreams are an escape,” said founder Johnson in an interview with amNewYork. “With the world, we’re living in and the feeds that inundate us with bad news, we don’t really [get a break]. We wanted to have a space that is a respite.”
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