Dreams and Reality


Dreams portend.  They scale down intensities of desire, concentrating them in doubled versions of reality, reshaping and reforming expectancies.  Dreams are unsettling and provocative not because they amplify the scenes of everyday life; rather, they loosen the connections which have tied together associative limitations within everyday scenes, releasing strings of possibilities in reconnective trails.  Purportedly visual, they are actually of mixed sensuality, with images becoming affective ecologies with seeping, stodgy and damp protuberances creeping over disembodied skin.  They might seem the opposite of “matte, somewhat stupid” photographs, seemingly willing slaves to the version of reality we see when we have our eyes open, but they may actually draw out emotive responses and throw far away objects together.  Photographs have the tendency to sharpen the lines between objects, even while retaining the depth of hidden narratives, of objects out of kilter, which might provoke chance encounters with flourishing outcrops of attuned frequencies.  Manuel Archain’s photographs seem like hyperrealised cliched renderings of dreamworlds: the Jack and the Giant Beanstalk tree sprouting through the roof of the house, the cat resting on the wrapped-up stroller, the bare mannequin legs with underwear, a drink and a book resting on top, as a reading table.  All very homely, if a little disturbing, we might think.  Yet, is this not where the interstices of dreams and reality meet – precisely in the uncanny dislocation of the familiar, like an odd acoustic echo within a floating word? Dreams may have lost the status they had as revelation in the medieval world, but they still hold sway over the manner in which space becomes poetics in the throws of time for the modern.  If photographs warp time and space in their very subservience to the having-been-there of the thing, or produce the absolute particularity of the time they render (catching out the guilty, as Benjamin puts it), we might also question to what extent photographs render or intensify reality at all; or whether they are actually an overflow of a non-representative world in itself.  Instead of catching moments of the world in-the-act, as it were, they instead are continuities of the world by other means, open ended, unbounded – like dreams themselves.  In this sense, Archain’s photographs play with this labyrinthine archive of banalities, placing layers of velvet happenstances one atop the other, in an endless release of signifiers from their chained couplings.  In this sense the colour in the photographs – similar to Wes Anderson’s cinematography – serves as a gentle reminder of the secret passageway between the everyday and the fantastic.



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