SEEK-ART artist Claudia Hart receives the Illinois Council of the Arts grant to support production of the Chamber of Dreams.
The Chamber of Dreams, is a model room a model room embellished with augmented-reality décor. It uses augmented-reality software so the viewer can peek through their smart phone or tablet computer and discover a series of dream-like animated illusions, invisible to the naked eye. An app permits any personal smart device to be used like a magical lens and perceive a dream world within custom objects. The Chamber of Dreams takes the form of a model room, like the kind one finds in a museum. It is covered with decorative wallpapers, upholsteries and patterns that also function as augmented-reality “tags”.
The Chamber of Dreams is a dining room, but inspired by the bedroom from the Sagredo Palace, ca. 1718, a model room found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. When one looks through one’s smart phone, with the Chamber of Dreams custom augmented reality application in play, hidden erotica is revealed—animations inspired by the perverse political satires and erotic cartoons from the 18th and early 19th centuries by Thomas Rowlandson, a caricaturist who mocked the European aristocracy during the decadent epoch around the French Revolution.
Chamber of Dreams is named after Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Dream Story, on which Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut, was based. The story follows the sexually charged adventures of Dr. Bill Harford, a middle class doctor who has sleepwalked through life. He embarks on a nightlong journey during which he infiltrates a massive masked orgy of an underground cult, like a contemporary version of an 18th–century Venetian carnival: a night where the polite civilized cultured mask of bourgeois society may be dropped for a moment to permit a single sanctioned moment of transgressive behavior.
The augmented-reality layer of the Chamber of Dreams embodies the liminal interface between fiction and reality that the contemporary technology of the virtual and the artificial allow...a truth that has been all but lost in the contemporary bureaucratic, technocratic, industrialized and corporate world. The Chamber of Dreams, like Kubrick’s movie, is full of symbols and hidden meanings, and resists rational decoding. The hidden erotica underneath the surface of this sumptuous room does not render a single analytic interpretation or symbolic coherence. Instead the viewer holds a chamber—a layer of dreamsnot quite conscious.