Final Project – Project DREAM


Project Documentation 


Table Setup

Space setup
LCD alarm clock

Dream Inventory


Project DREAM evokes the states of rest and disturbance by immersing the viewer in a spatial experience. The choice of the bed within a dark space creates a sense of comfort, where the viewer is isolated from the outside world. Time is given for the viewer to be left alone and projections of collected dreams are played. It allows a sense of rest but at the same time, suspense due to the context of the work. An alarm of certain time is set, without the knowledge of the viewer, for him to be awaken from the state of rest.

This work explores interstice between sleep and reality, revealing the state of mind where rest is disrupted into a state of wakefulness. Collecting dreams and projecting them in real-time was another concept of interactivity we wanted to explore. Viewers have to choice to enter their dream any time, be it for the novelty of reading their own dreams or allowing the subsequent viewers to read theirs. This interactivity changes each experience, though subtle, where each participant contributes to the making of our work.

In project DREAM, there is a difference between the role of the person experiencing our work and the person outside. The viewer has a choice to go into the work or to enter a dream or do both. The viewer experience the work in our space is a pure observer of the experience. However, when the participants decide to enter a dream, there is feedback when it is projected and inputted into our work. Though limited, the work is constantly changing with the intellectual contribution of the viewers. The characteristics of the interface isolates you from the real world of experience but at the same time, evokes familiarity with a bed that is usually as associated with sleeping and rest. The structure of  the interface may seem linear in the experience, where the set alarm will go off after the projection is played, however, there is subtle feedback through the collection and displaying of dreams which creates a continuous chain where the dream of the previous user is viewed by the next.


We were inspired by the work Sea of Time’98 by Tatsuo Miyajima, a site-specific work in a “Kadoya” house on Naoshima island. A water pool is built inside the house and LED devices showing 1-9 are scattered in the water. The “time” on the LED counters were set by local residents.

Sea of Time’98, Tatsuo Miyajima                                        Plastic coated waterproof Light Emitting Diode, IC, Electric wire, Water, FRP Water pool.                                      486 x 577 x 15 cm Site specific commissioned work

We wanted to explore a time-based installation for the viewer to experience the space constructed. In the early stages of our work, we wanted to collect alarm timings from the students who are to be awaken routinely due to their responsibilities. However, we shifted our focus to collecting dreams as we wanted to focus on a singular immersive experience and collecting a constantly updating narrative.

The sense of serenity found in Sea of Time inspired the sense of rest we were trying to create with our work. The concept of collecting dreams was inspired by Marina Abramovic’s Dream House, mentioned in previous OSS posts.


PROCESS – The viewer’s experience

When the viewer enters the space, he is faced with a space with a mattress where he can sit or lie down. Unknown to him, an alarm of  three minutes is set. A blue LCD clock which displays the time and date is within the space. After the door is closed, a projection of an inventory of collected dreams from previous users is projected on the black walls of space, where the text appears letter by letter. After two to three minutes, the alarm is triggered and the LED lights around the room turns on sporadically. The alarm and lights intensify as time passes till it goes off, and the lights are left permanently on, indicating the end of the experience.


How the system works:
Our project consists of two concurrent Arduino systems, one controlling the LCD clock, alarm and LED lights and the other controlling the projection using a light sensor. Processing is also used to collect dreams and for the projection as a response to the viewer entering the space.

LCD Alarm Clock System

Using the above tutorial, I built an alarm clock using the LCD screen with a RTC DS3231 unit. We had some problems with the libraries used, but we figured it out with help from Wen Lei. Initially we wanted to use 4 digit 7 segment displays for our alarm clock but we decided on the LCD display as it could display a larger range of information.  When the code is uploaded, the LCD screen displays ‘sweet dreams…’.

Setup for the LCD clock display

Cecilia connected the LED strips with the system, so that the LED will be triggered when the alarm goes off.

To set an alarm, values of the hour and minutes need to be manually keyed in. This is done in real time after the viewer has entered the space. For the alarm to speed up, the values of delay() is decreased accordingly.

For the LED to be turned on permanently after the alarm goes off, I set a long time interval.


Arduino Light Sensor and Processing

When the door of the room is closed, a light sensor triggers the projection to play. This is done by connecting arduino to processing through a light sensor (  A light sensor is placed at the entrance to sense the light value that will trigger different states of projection. 

The sensorValue() was used to determine the different states, such as door open, door close and when the led lights are flashing when the alarms are triggered.

Processing thus reads the different states, written as 1, 2 and 3 to produce different responses on the projection. We want the projection to play the projection when the door state is 2 (when the door is closed). When the LED lights are turned on by the alarms, the projection should stop.


Processing: Projecting text from an outer source in real-time

Initially, my processing code could only encompass displaying text from a string that has to be keyed into processing and it could not be very long. However, as we intended to collect dreams from our viewers, I decided to have the dreams to be input into a txt file and connected it to processing. This enables the projection to be different and updated with new dreams each time the txt file is updated.

The code takes text from the txt file and displaying it letter by letter on a screen.

By combining this code with the processing code connected to the light sensor, the projection can display the dreams collected in the txt file when the door of the space is closed.

To improve the effect of inputting a text, I tried developing a text input file for the viewers to enter their dreams. With the help of Wen Lei, we tried to save the text input into the txt file but the effect was limited so I decide against it and would have the viewers enter their dreams directly into the txt file.

Dream Inventory
Processing displaying text from txt file


Cecilia and I both worked on the LCD alarm clock, where I was in charge of the LCD screen and Cecilia worked with the LED lights. We both designed and built the setup and space. I worked on the processing with the help of Wen Lei on the light sensor and projection systems. Cecilia worked on initial experiments with sound sensor and heart rate sensor.


The effect of the alarms and lights could have been intensified to create a greater sense of disturbance. We could do this by adding more buzzers or connecting a speaker and installing brighter LED lights. To improve the interactivity in our work, we could add a button so that the viewer can turn the alarm off by themselves.


Project DREAM allowed me to understand how interactive interfaces works and how coding and systems can be used to create an experience. While project DREAM is on a more subtle side of interactivity, the spatial experience created was in line with what we intended at the start of the project. We had problems finding a frame to construct our space, so we decided to build one ourselves and I was glad that we did as it defined the look and experience of our work heavily, Building a setup and its intertwined systems was complicated and difficult and I have learnt a lot about arduino and processing language as tools for interactive art.

Project Dream: Flow Chart & Mid-term project review

Recap of Concept

“Project Dream” explores the gap between unconscious and reality. Our project is a space that recreates the different stages of sleep through various systems. A projection “showing” collected dreams will be played.

First draft:

Flow Chart

Our initial plan included a chair installed in the centre of the room, facing the projection, as a point of action that the user can make.

When the user enters the dark space, the alarms are turned on. The user can choose to sit down, which will trigger the projection to play. The alarms will go off when the specified time has passed and the alarm sounds will trigger the projection and LED lights in the room  to flicker. When the alarms are turned off, the LED lights remain on and the projection is off. No further change in the space would serve as an indication for the viewer to leave.

Mid-term Project Review – BODY STORMING

Recommended Arduino Experiments:
Due to our inexperience with Arduino, we tried 2 experiments from the projects book.

  • Light Theremin: Piezo buzzer is activated by the amount of light received by the photo-resistor. For our review, we switched the buzzer for a LED light to indicate the projection.
  • Digital Hourglass: Sets different timers indicated by LED lights, the breadboard has to be flipped to reset the system (“turning the alarms off”)

Process in midterm project review:
The viewer enters the room and the timers (alarms) of the digital hourglass is triggered. When the user sits down on the chair, the light the photo-resistor receives changes, triggering a projection to play “dreams” [when the LED light of the light theremin project goes off and video is played]. After a certain time passes, the alarms go off [when the LED lights of the digital hourglass turn on] and triggers a response from the projection and lights in the space. When the user turn the alarms off [flipping the breadboard], the system resets.


  • Unpredictability of the user: “What if the viewer does not sit on the chair?”
  • Focus on Narrative – What information or image do you want to present to the viewer?
  • Systems are too complicated – How can you guarantee that the user will follow each action?

– Instead of using a chair as a point of action, we are considering the use of a measure (heart-rate or motion) to trigger the projection.
> for example, if the heart-rate reaches a constant, it will trigger the projection to play
– Instead of a video, we can use text to represent a dream through story-telling.
> Using processing to collect dreams and display them
– Build an alarm system that can be turned off and reset

Principles of New Media

“Project DREAM” is an interactive media project, where the stages of sleep and activity of dreaming is recreated in a digital environment to explore the ‘interstice’ between reality and your unconscious. The personal experience is confined to a single user at a time, where he would be connected to a heart-rate sensor as an indicator of his comfort or “state of rest”.  The participant enters a dark room, which consists of a chair and a wall of alarm clocks. When he is calm and seated, indicated by a consistent heart rate, it triggers the set timers on the alarm clocks as well as a projection of written “dreams”. The dreams shown are recollections of dreams from other participants, where they are collected and viewed as story. When the alarms go off, the environment and room reacts, mimicking the process of being woken up, where the lights flicker and the “dream” ends.

According to Manovich in The Language of New Media, he states that new media works are bounded by five general principles. Digital works can be characterised by numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability and transcoding.  “Numerical Representation” refers to the backbone of digital code in new media projects, where it involves sampling. An algorithmic pattern of code is constructed using units through systems that reads and manipulates such units to produce a desired outcome. In our project, mathematical code serves as building blocks that shapes the processes through open-source tools, such as processing and arduino.

New Media works have “modularity”, a whole composed of parts of a fractal nature. Each system have different components that work together and the systems function connectively as a whole. The foundation of computer programming is built upon this principle, where it allows for autonomy of individual parts as well as the functionality between them as a system. “Project DREAM” involves different systems that are interconnected, relying on the inputs and outputs that triggers one another. However, each system is wired and can exist on their own.

An unique difference between new media works and traditional artworks is “variability”, where new media works can exist in “different, potentially infinite versions”. With the involvement of human interaction, unpredictability serves as a variable in digital works. In “project DREAM”, each experience within the work is different as the freedom of interaction and responses trigger different outcomes. The input of the various dreams produce different experiences for each viewer, where the variables in our work is “space” and “time”. The duration and the environment (projection and light) changes according the how a viewer decides to interact with the space.

Lastly, Manovich argues that new media is composed of two distinct layers, “cultural layer” and “computer layer”. The complex relationship between the two layers is explored in new media works through “transcoding”, where systems of organisation of culture is integrated with interfaces in computing. New media works blend two seemingly contradicting components, media and data through computerisation. “Project DREAM” is exploring an organic and visceral concept through digital and objectified ways. The concept of sleep and dreaming is portrayed in a simplified and “non-human” manner that would not have been possible before the existence of new media and coding.

Project Development – Brainstorming & Proposal


Exploring the concept of interstice as dreams – metaphorical gaps between reality

Dreams occur during our sleep, where we are unconscious and not in control of what we see. They are often forgotten and seemed to serve no concrete purpose as compared to our conscious reality. Dreams cannot be recalled to its full detail and experience without conscious effort. While its narrative holds no limits, be it a joyful or horrific experience, it serves as an escape from our routine daily life.

Definition and Characteristics

Interactive Works as Inspiration:

DREAM 2.2 (2018)

Initial interactive ideas

  1. Dream as a movie – physical record of dreams
    The visual representation of dreams through story telling
    Idea: Exhibiting a ‘dream’ of participants
    The sleeping viewer serves as the input for interaction where emotional conditions (heart-rate, sweat glands, temperature, movement, etc) are measured to reflect the dream he is experiencing. As a response to the inputs, lights and projection can be used as indications of the emotional narrative of the dream, where it can be “experienced” by the viewer and be a form of story-telling to the watching viewers.
    Inspiration of set-up:

    Dream House by Marina Abramovic

    “Dream House” by Marina Abramovic is an experiential work where participants are live in a house overnight and sleep in conditions that facilitates dreaming. Their dreams are physically recorded in “dream books” the following morning.

    Issues and further questions:
    – Condition: how can we make sure the viewer is asleep?
    – Duration: how long will the work take if it involved dreaming and deep sleep of a single participant?
    – Interaction is pretty one-way, where the inputs result in a certain outcome.
    – The limitation of input by the viewer: Can the inputs be measured and have various outcomes?
    – In what way can we link different inputs to different outcomes? For example, does a fast heart rate indicate the emotion of fear and what light can be used to evoke the emotion?

  2. Dreams as a construct of random brain waves
    Idea: The viewer are in control of the narrative of the work by arranging a sequence of brain waves (alpha, beta, delta, theta)
    Input: Buttons of to send brain waves
    Output: images, light and soundIssues:
    – The interaction is too simple.
    – How can the output be best represented as a dream instead of a performance.


After discussing with my partner, we decided to explore the state of mind between sleeping and waking. We intend to explore interstice in a subtle manner, focusing on the gap between consciousness and unconsciousness.

Characteristics of sleep:

  • Comforting, calm, rest between the busyness of reality
  • Cycle of time: fall asleep to wake up
  • Dreams: unexplainable, abrupt, forgettable, ephemeral
  • Disrupted by reality

Creating a space that recreates the experience of sleeping and dreaming only to be disturbed by reality (alarms that disrupt rest). We want to use time and disruption as a physical representation of the moment one is awaken by reality. The space would response according to its conditions.

1. Wall of alarm clocks – Triggered by participant entering room
2. Projection of “dream” – Triggered by movement/ heart rate/ touch sensor
3. Lights – Triggered by sounds of alarms

Draft of sequence:


INTERACTIVE 1 – Singapore Night Festival

by Galina Mihaleva, Hedren Sum, Pat Pataranutaporn, Kathrin Albers, Audrey Ng

image from:

Located outside the Armenian Church, Pulse is an experiential installation where lights of different colours, triggered by sound and voice, are projected onto an elevated roof of strung arrays of white fabric. The assemblage of fabrics resembles a porous membrane, as the  free hanging pieces of white fabric allow for an ever-changing surface.

The digital and interactive aspects involve colourful visualisation projections that are activated through voice and sound, a trigger initiated by the participants. The lights projected on the looming surface that bounds the space created an immersive and alternative environment that mimic a live organism with a pulse.

The anatomy of the work involves the sensors who pick up the sound and noise of the participants (or the surroundings) and the actuators are the light projected. I would say the interaction in this work is passive, where the participant would not have to actively act or put much thought behind the interaction. In my opinion, the actual artwork is the membrane which serves as the backbone in the environment created. The organic design of the structures were inspired by the algorithm of how cells divide, where the artists intent for it to represent the spontaneity of our digital society. Thus, I feel that the lights play a secondary role in the work, while the physical structure could possibly serve as an installation on its own.

image from:

Other than an experiential piece, this work also serves as a performative piece where a muse is invited to dance within the space. She would wear a dress of the same fabric used and the audience can watch her move fluidly as a response to the dynamic but strangely calming lights and sound.

INTERACTIVE I – Interactive media projects

“DREAM HOUSE” by Marina Abramovic

Located permanently in Niigata, Japan, “Dream House” project is an experimental artwork where participants are invited to stay in a house curated by Abramovic, who aim to cultivate dreams. The viewer participates with the entire space by living in it, going through rituals to facilitate the process of dreaming. After sleeping in a coordinated pace in ‘dream suits’, the viewer recalls his dreams in the “DREAM BOOK” which is recorded since its first participant.

IMG_3191 IMG_3193 IMG_3197 IMG_3198 IMG_3200

I would say the interaction between the viewer and this work is raw and organic, playing with the line between reality and imaginary. Each dream becomes part of the work that documents the existence of each viewer and a fragment of their imagination that lived within the art work.

“UNIVERSE OF WATER PARTICLES ON A ROCK WHERE PEOPLE GATHER” by teamLab, 2018, Interactive Digital Installation, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi

This art installation digitalised the flow of water of a waterfall into lines of light, creating a virtual space in a three dimensional space. When a viewer stands on the rock or touches the waterfall, the flow of water changes as a response to the interaction to create an ever-changing state.

I feel that the interaction in this work is of face-value given the possibilities of digital technology. But the work can be appreciated for its scale and beauty.