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Dreamy exhibit on view at Rotch Library

Monica de Silva of Antwerp, Belgium, plays the recurring dream character Uda in "Somnambulations."
Monica de Silva of Antwerp, Belgium, plays the recurring dream character Uda in "Somnambulations."

Many MIT students learn to get their work done with little sleep, but Napier S. Fuller, a graduate student in urban information systems, has used dreams to create his artistic work.

"Somnambulations," a multimedia installation about the role of dreams in our decision-making process, is on view at the Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning (Room 7-238) through Tuesday, Sept. 30.

The viewer can sit on one of two queen-sized beds, don a set of headphones and experience eight dream sequences narrated by Fuller to an accompaniment of solo piano pieces. Digital prints surround the bed, and above are flowers suspended on fishing line symbolizing "how you grow when you dream," said Fuller, who compared the scene to an "inverted flower garden."

According to Fuller, the show reveals a detailed psychological portrait of a young man's conflicting romantic desires. The viewer is also privy to visual imagery and to the written word (e-mails, love letters and diary entries), which create a collage of textual information detailing the young man's shifting emotional landscape, he said.

"Although the work confronts issues of sexual longing and reproductive success, the approach is never explicit but rather takes an indirect route via metaphors relating to geography, plant matter, economics and religion," said Fuller.

Fuller's academic interests--and the inspiration for this art work--involve the modeling of human behavior in architectural spaces to enable context-aware computing. Before coming to MIT, he studied studio art at Washington University and later studied the philosophy of art at Oxford University.

This is the artist's first one-man show, and it is funded in part by the Council for Arts at MIT. "Somnambulations" was conceived and designed earlier this year when the artist was living in Brussels.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 2003.

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