A Journey through the Unconscious

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A Journey through the Unconscious

Yasamin Arbabi

Project

These illustrations are part of an ongoing project whereby I document my dreams in the form of short and long stories. The stories set a narrative for my dreams and the illustrations compliment the stories by recreating the spatial and architectural elements experienced in my dreams.

In the sleeping state, detached from the physical surroundings and free from the confines of the logical mind, the unconscious reconstructs and redefines the context and the space in relation to one’s inner experience. In this process of formation, objects and spaces are borrowed from memory and then are combined, altered and deformed within a dramatised setting. Time is barely perceptible and there is no clear sense of order of events.

Untitled

Ambiguity of an End

Through the same mechanism, I obtain images of the objects in my dreams, deform and collage them in one single illustration. The events of each dream, along with their physical settings, are juxtaposed with no chronological order to create a non-linear narrative.

Fear

Depending on the nature of the dream, I use two approaches to create the illustrations. In the first approach, through a series of sketches of overlapping perspectives, I explore the spaces in the dream and bring materials, textures and objects together, layered into one entity, to construct the spatial and emotional experience of the dream. Through this new association, the collaged elements obtain new meanings while still carrying their original connotation.

In the second approach, I build and study models inspired by the architectural spaces in the dream and represent the dominant feelings carried by the dream, such as fear, disorientation or lightness, through the spatial abstraction of the model.  The model becomes the focal point of the illustration and it provides a context to present other elements of the dream.

Ambiguity of an end- study model

Interview

Who influences you graphically?

I have been inspired by variety of architects and artists, such as Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Superstudio, Ada Wilson’s Crab nightclub, Alexander Rodchenko’s collages as well as Yona Friedman and Hans Hollein. In the course of working on this project, I came across Raimund Abraham’s drawings of his architectural dreams which have to some extent influenced my work. Some of my earlier illustrations were inspired by the Iranian miniatures, mainly by their abstract composition and the way they project a three dimensional scene into two dimensions, distorting the proportions and spatial arrangement of the objects.

 

Could you take us through your work process in recreating these dreams visually -from the moment you wake up to the final image?

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I review my dreams briefly to help me remember them later. In the mornings I make short notes of the main happenings in sequence. For some time, I analyse the dreams while keeping them in the back of my mind. I explore their meanings, dominant feelings and their connection to my subconscious. Afterwards, I write them down in the form of a short linear narrative.

For each sequence in a dream I compose a point of view and then collage in the views from all the sequences in one illustration with no chronological order in contrast to the linearity of the narrative. Lastly I bring in materials, textures and objects together.

This is not a love song

This is not a love song

What lead you to embark on this project and where do you see this developing?

I used to do hand sketches of my dreams, take notes in the morning and sometimes record them in the audio format. The idea of documenting my dreams in the current form came after reading The Benefactor by Susan Sontag, where the protagonist’s fascination with his dreams leads the story to the point that his dreams become indistinguishable from his real life. This fine line between dreams and reality became very interesting for me.

I started writing my dreams in the form of short stories combining them with the real events in my life that had some connections to my dream. I would use hand sketches to compliment the story.  However, during that process I found the dreams far more complicated to be presented by these sketches. Instead, I chose collage as the medium for bringing different layers of materials, forms and unrelated objects together, in a way similar to what the subconscious does in a dream.

The collection of short narratives and their illustrations will eventually become a book. I am also contemplating the comic book format where instead of depicting one dream in one illustration, the events in a dream can be narrated through a series of illustrations.

In redefining your own experience in relation to these true spaces through the dream have you encountered any interesting anecdotes? What defined the titles of each image? 

The titles come either from the dominant feeling or the main event happening in the dream.

Outdoor wedding

Outdoor wedding

What are the limits of trying to convey something so vivid and potentially three dimensional into a two dimensional image? Have you ever thought of exploring other mediums?  

My next step is to build physical 3d models of the architectural spaces in the dreams. In this format I will need to use my imagination to design the parts of the space which were not accessible to me in the dream and cannot be presented in a two dimensional medium such as a sketch or collage.

Each medium for me has its potentials and limitations. For instance, in a story there is more room to describe the emotions as I perceive them, as well as the possibility to develop the characters I encounter in a dream; this is usually absent from the collage. On the other hand, collage gives me the flexibility to incorporate elements and objects that cannot be included in a 3d model.

Exhibition

Exhibition

About

Yasamin has a Masters degree from Tehran Azad Art and Architecture University and a Masters degree from Architectural Association in London. After graduation in 2009 she has worked for KPF until 2015. Since then she has been working as a freelance architect.

 

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