Dream House is an ongoing project created by visual artist, Sara Ludy. Ludy is known for her exploration of the convergence between the physical and virtual. Dream House takes the shape of a ten-minute long video showing a virtual world Ludy has created mirrored after her own lucid dreams. The video takes the viewer through a tour of the 100-acre island Ludy has created through a series of stills.
The space can best be described as an otherworldly house. There are elements that appear more tangible than others. The house is furnished with what Ludy calls animistics. Based on the rules of feng shui and belief that objects can have their own “spiritual essence,” the animistics work as art pieces, navigating between natural and artificial beauty. The first scene depicts a room inspired from Ludy’s first lucid dream in 2001. The scene shows the animistic, “Transport Bed,” which looks like a futuristic bed base sitting atop a lit two-tier stand. The only other object in the room is the Stack of Books which looks more like an art piece than an actual stack of books.
There is one large window in the room which allows the viewer to peak into another room although what that room is, is not clear.
The video continues to show images of the animistic, “Vanity Mirror,” a square filled with a black gradient and sitting in a circular frame, making it unclear if the piece is indeed a mirror or a window. The second room the viewer travels to is a white-washed depth-challenging scene. The whole room is positioned on a staircase leading to a black void. The only two furnishings are identical lime green animistics called “Floor Curves,” which one can imagine would act as chairs.
The third room appears to be some sort of corridor, whose symmetry is almost eerie. Large mirrors lie on either side of the room, reflecting the two sets of staircases that border a column holding another animistic hanging on the wall and backlit as if it were an art piece in a museum. The video continues to show other angles and animistics present in what Ludy describes as the “the palace of dreams.”
The video was first released along with a description which seems to advertise the virtual mansion as a real estate destination.
Ludy takes this exploration to the next level in her Animistic Series presented at the bitforms gallery in New York. Using some of the animistics from Dream House, Ludy takes them from their original 4-D nature and transforms them into 2D renderings in the form of prints. Through this process, Ludy takes the virtual and reconfigures it to the physical.
This transformation begs the questions, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” The fluctuation between what is real and what only appears real is a reflection of the lucid dreams Dream House is based on. As you move through Dream House you can’t help but wonder, what lies outside of the mansion walls? How far does the world extend? Is there any evidence of life? The space this fictional dream house exists in tests the ways in which technology is both creative and created. Much like any conversation surrounding virtual reality, there comes a point where we have to ask ourselves, what makes something a reality?
As stated before, there is an eerie theme that follows Ludy’s work, in part relating to the uncanny valley as Dream House boasts and somewhat resembles a real living space, however, its black void of a ceiling and lack of actual life creates a tension between what we see and what we know to be true.
Much like lucid dreams, the virtual world offers some level of control, however, in Dream House’s case, Ludy is acting as the controlling agent, creating a reality only she can define.
Jon Rafman’s Kool-Aid Man in Second Life presents some of the same questions, Ludy’s work does. Kool-Aid Man, like Dream House is a virtual space, created to imitate real life. However, unlike Ludy’s work, Kool-Aid Man is an online game, where anyone and anyone can add to the virtual world. Players are allowed to explore a shared virtual experience in the game while also adding their own personal touches to it.
The world in which Kool-Aid Man resides is much more elaborate than the one Ludy created, however, there still remains a chilling disconnect between the tangible and intangible.
Whether it be by way of video games or virtual real estate, the desire for escape into the virtual other is only increasing with the continuous advancements in technology. Virtual reality is no longer a thing of the future, it is becoming part of our lived experiences and our own realities.
Exhibitions: Subsurface Hell, bitforms gallery, NY, NY, 2015
Stills taken from video: https://vimeo.com/110292649