These have been long days of hanging vinyl and caressing air bubbles with a squeegee as C. and I finished installing a situation in the atrium of a school. Over the past four weeks, we’ve collected over one thousand dreams from students ranging from kindergarten through high school. It’s striking to see the weird material from my own dreams rendered in the handwriting of six-year-olds and teenagers: I was chased through an endless hallway in the sky / I was running in slow motion and couldn’t run away from my problems / I dreamt about a red door, and just as I went to open it, I woke up. 

There’s something comforting in knowing we’re all bound together by the same scenes of being chased, going backward, searching frantically, lost in mazes, and expecting mysteries to be revealed. We run through sludge, and our teeth fall out. Little kids seem more likely to have zany dreams about talking animals and flying over rainbows, but they’re also dreaming about war and viruses.

C. and I began making sketches for a theater to display these dreams.

I’m still not sure how to write about the process of installing a public art project or if it’s interesting to read. A fair chunk of our time was spent pacing and sighing while we waited for the space to give us an idea of how it wanted to be, and we spent a week shivering in a damp glass-enclosed courtyard with rain dripping down the sides. We called it the Tarkovsky Box. Eventually, we grew tired of staring at the doors to the school toilets, so we decided to cover the glass with shiny black vinyl and see what would happen with the reflections. 

At first, we wanted to cover the ground with stones to absorb the water and create a Zen garden in the center of the school. Then we considered the combination of children, rocks, and glass. So we laid down astroturf instead, and the shape of a theater began to emerge.

After running some tests with paper that we pilfered from the art department, we decided to project our video on large white drapes that generated a slightly eerie effect, as if they were hiding something, with the center strip of fabric running towards an illuminated well that contains the handwritten responses. The process of sifting through these scraps of writing feels like the act of recalling a dream, how its logic sits just beyond the reach of language and thought, leaving us only with a few fragments: a room filled with sand / a clown burning my soul / a pixellated hand / stabbed with a fork / the world was empty, and I was stuck in time.

So that’s some process, and if all goes well, The Nightly News will be ready to share in a few days.