A Dream Hotel with Carsten Höller

Yechen Zhu


We are working with MIT CAST Visiting Artist Carsten Höller to build prototypes for a Dream Hotel museum exhibition which will translate experiments from the sleep neuroscience lab into the artistic context. See documentation and description of our project at the  Center for Art, Science and Technology at MIT website here.  

An excerpt from CAST MIT:

"CAST Visiting Artist Carsten Höller creates participatory and relational works of art that explore logic and perception, the body and interactions, and the ways in which we experience and understand the world around us. During his residency at MIT, he worked with Professor Pattie Maes and graduate student Adam Haar of the Fluid Interfaces Group to build prototypes for a Dream Hotel: a museum exhibition with seven rooms, each housing a sleep experiment for overnight guests.

Höller, who holds a PhD in agricultural science, applies his training as a scientist and his practice as an artist to reveal the alternate realities latent in daily life. As such, his work is closely aligned with current research at the Fluid Interfaces Group, which develops experiences and devices for expanding our cognitive capacities. By reframing experiment design as experience design, Höller’s work removes the implicit power dynamics of a neuroscience experiment in the lab; while the conventional hierarchies are dissolved, the rituals and theatrics are maintained, casting the participant into a state of pure play.

The first phase of the Dream Hotel involved a “daydream night” at MIT Museum Studio, where guests explored recent findings from experiments designed to incubate and alter dreams. From a film to inspire flying dreams to a prototype for inflatable pajamas, the Fluid Interfaces Group revealed how technologies for muscle stimulation, bone conduction audio, scent delivery, and temperature adjustment can calibrate our levels of lucidity and disorientation.

By innovating at the intersection of waking and sleep, the collaboration between Höller and the Fluid Interfaces Group has the potential to effect real change at the level of individual and communal consciousness. What if we understood rest as a form of resistance, and dreamscapes as test sites for generating new possibilities in the waking world? The Dream Hotel proposes dreaming as an essentially democratic space, where worlds overlap, objects are decontextualized, and minds merge into a flow state of collective receptivity."

This project will be hugely collaborative. Already work has begun with Media Labbers David Su, Abhinandan Jain, Irmandy Wicaksono, and with Yechen Zhu (RISD), Wendi Yan (Princeton), Seth Riskin and of course Carsten Höller + more. 

To read about our first Dream Hotel Room at Basel's Beyeler Foundation, click here.

Above: A prototype for an immersive flying experience to seed flying dreams, by Wendi Yan

Research Topics
#art #creativity #sleep