The Dream Machine
In collaboration with George Monteleone and Or Zubalsky
Phone-based dream exchange and archive
2005 – ongoing
The Dream Machine is a dream database and exchange. It will operate forever, archiving our dreams long after we have forgotten them. You call the dream machine and leave a voice recording of your dream. It calls you back and plays a random dream from its memory.
A few words on the Dream Machine:
We are surrounded by surrogate memories, and have become accustomed to them as supports for usual function in an information-laden world. We could critique this, worry at the risk of losing memories by shunting them off to storage without actually encoding them in our brains. Yet there is also a way to find memory through these cues and systems, to forget and rediscover, or to come across something left by another. With the greater ease to leave behind small pieces of our lives comes as well the ease of discovery.
Spending nearly a third of our lives in suspended states of consciousness, memory loss is nothing new to us. We have *always* lost our dreams, which materialize for such brief moments each morning and disappear across the horizon that divides conscious and automatic thought. While our waking lives may be so laden with information that we pass it off to electronic systems (sometimes to be forgotten), the same systems can just as well remind us of the shadows of the things we are used to forgetting.
The Dream Machine is a locus for this: a receptacle and a transmitter for the ephemeral and the ethereal, a hub for the symbolic, surreal, uninhibited activities of our automatic minds. Its goal is to catalyze of the ubiquity of the unconscious, an anonymous amplifier for that which is so often held, lost, or forgotten.
The Dream Machine serves to store the ephemeral. It is at the same time systematic and random, accessible yet immaterial. If dreams are a haphazard reorganization of the elements that our conscious minds constrain to thought, then the Dream Machine is a distillation: an automatic nexus for the unconscious.
—Huong Ngo and George Monteleone
In collaboration with Or Zubalsky
Online collaborative audio platform
2013 – 2015
"I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me."
On September 16, 2013, the Randolph County Board of Education in Central North Carolina banned Ralph Ellison's book "The Invisible Man" after a student's mother complained about the adult content in the book. One board member supported her complaint, stating that he "didn't find any literary value" in Ellison's account of African-American alienation in the United States in the early 20th century. The ban remained for a mere nine days until it was lifted by the North Carolina School Board under much fire by the public.
Over sixty years after the book's publication date, even after winning the National Book Award for fiction in 1953 and being named by the Library of Congress as one of the "Books That Shaped America," this incident demonstrates the precarity that a work, even one that has been nationally recognized, faces in a cultural climate of a country that has not resolved its history of racial oppression. This issue is particularly timely now as structural violence against people of color has been gaining national attention after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the homicide of Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY.
In the novel, the main character struggles to do good in the world, but is thwarted by structures instituted to maintain the status quo. He eventually aligns himself with the invisible, those who tip-toe precariously at the periphery of our society. We are asking participants to read out loud and record as much or as little of the book as they want in a show of solidarity with the invisible. The platform is readily customizable for any text facing censorship and is open source for others to use. While willfully violating copyright laws, the Invisible Library asks how works of literature might find new avenues for appreciation through digital media.
Through the voice, may we collectively enact a visibility.
Portable working space
The Pop-Up Studio is a mobile, working, studio space. I share this 8'x8'x8' cube with one other artist at a time, and we set up and work in public spaces.