Muscle Memory for Dreaming

 

Video Game built in Unity 3D

2014

 

Muscle Memory for Dreaming is a video game modeled after a recurring dream of mine. My dream is a house without edges: endless hallways, doors, rooms, and stairwells reach in every direction as far as the player can track. It is an expansive, maze-like world, resembling the interior of a midwestern, suburban upper class home. It is generic in decoration: cream colored walls, white trim, and sparse modern furniture. The house is traversed in a three dimensional environment from a first person point of view with a standard game controller. Waves can be heard off in the distance, close to the center of the structure a voice weaves into the audioscape. She sounds half-human half-machine, her sentences are clear but not always coherent. She is not giving directions, she is only telling stories. Perhaps by chance, intuition, duration, or all of the above, the absolute center of the structure may eventually be found. It appears just as the rest of the house, until a particular door at the end of a staircase is opened. Beyond the door a huge space is revealed, bathed in light from an unidentifiable source, the room appears to glow gold, there are no perceivable edges. The door disappears, the only thing left to do is move around in the ambiguous, placental void. After some time moving around the space the player falls through the floor, time and space whiz all around, within seconds of falling the game loop begins again.

 

Like the game Muscle Memory for Dreaming, my recurring dream is always a huge house, and it always ends at a particular staircase that leads to a specific door. In my dream this door never opens. My project is to hack my own dream via video game. Studies show that heavy gamers are more likely to experience lucid dreaming over their non-gaming counterparts. In response to this study I imagine potential intersections for gaming and dreams. Can I stage my recurring dream in game space with an alternate ending (the door opening), play practice the dream in preparation for a lucid dreaming state, and finally change the outcome of my dream? Ultimately tracing “uncharted channels directly through its [my brain] matter, twisting, folding, fissuring it?” (1)

 

I am thinking about my brain as material to be measured, scored, and manipulated. First hand experience of manipulating neural networks may be observed and experienced via the images and sensations that produce the dream environment. Muscle Memory for Dreaming attempts to replace the networks manufacturing my recurring dream with alternative networks practiced while playing the dream-in-game.

 

(1) Gaffney, Peter. The Force of the Virtual: Deleuze, Science, and Philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010,