All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Heather McPherson

Advisory Committee Members

Cathleen Cummings

Mindy Nancarrow

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Periods of intense visual and scientific exploration of dreams include the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Romantic movement, the early twentieth-century publication of Sigmund Freud's Interpretation of Dreams and corresponding Surrealist movement, and the contemporary era. Primary themes established by Romantic scholars and artists and expanded upon by Freud and the Surrealists resonate in contemporary dream theory and visual art. These themes include: an interest in the relationship between the dreaming mind and the creative process, childhood cognition, perceptual effects of visual art, the purpose and function of dreams, and the associational abilities of the dreaming mind. Using Michel Gondry's 2006 film The Science of Sleep and corresponding gallery exhibition as a platform for investigating contemporary trends merging art and neuroscience, this thesis illustrates how scientific resources like brain imaging technology, contemporary dream theory, and the emerging practice of sleep medicine can support and enhance artistic and scholarly approaches. Contextualizing Gondry's work within a network of contemporary artists interested in creating scientifically-informed work based on dreams illuminates emerging themes, such as: an emphasis on viewer participation, utilizing tactile media to evoke the oneiric experience, and cross-disciplinary collaboration. By tracing historical periods of heightened interest in the unconscious, this thesis provides a comprehensive understanding of how these periods formed the artistic representation of dreams and contributed to brain science. Applying neuroscience and contemporary dream theory to the critical consideration of the work of Gondry and his contemporaries represents a new approach to scholarship on dreams and underscores the mutual benefits of merging art and science. This cross-disciplinary approach to understanding and visually interpreting the inner mind enhances the understanding of one of the greatest mysteries of science, illuminating many cultural, medical, and scientific endeavors.

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