“Last night, the water was filled with giant sea snakes, dinosaurs, fishes as long as a bus with teeth to match.

But I wasn’t afraid, because they were so silver, so melodious.”

A point & click poetry game. Or perhaps a click-able dream? A virtual circus show, or a dream you had once, long forgotten, found again on your computer screen…

Use your lucid powers to click and sleep-stumble through a series of liminal spaces inspired by dreams from members of the public, framed within a surreal circus show. Dreams are the prancing white horses and tumbling acrobats of our nighttime wanderings, the entertainment we ourselves compose, the flaps of a tent drawn back to reveal our innermost ‘Sleep Circus’.

This digital experience takes you from big top to backstage and through surreal threshold worlds in between. Sleep Circus takes playful inspiration from concepts such as recurring motifs, hypnogogia, phosphenes (the flashing colours we see when our eyes are closed), dream narrators, mysterious spaces, illusions and within and beyond.

The circus is a topsy-turvy world of magic and mystery, with darker undertones of voyeurism and crimes against humanity and animals. Dreams also show us the darker sides of our experience as humans, pools of our subconscious raised before us like mirrors in which we see not always what we want to see, but so much that we can learn from and benefit from exploring. The rings of the Sleep Circus are also this, rings within rings, dreams within dreams. Games themselves have a dream-like quality to them, enabling us to navigate in a lucid way yet not always in directions or ways that are in our control.

Sleep Circus was curated and built by Lucie Treacher who took part in the Threshold Worlds project. She wanted to weave these academic conversations into an artistic project that brought together different artists, whilst learning how to use the game-building software Unity. The scenes that you move through are based on dreams by members of the public, collected through Lucie’s online platform The International Archive of Dreams. The original dreams were translated into images by Catalin Filip. These images were then passed to the poet JL Williams, who reflected them via words into the rings of the circus. Over these words and images run soundscapes and songs created by Lucie as part of her time at Durham. These elements combined create the surreal, virtual experience that is the Sleep Circus.

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