2022 Artist Residency – Awake or Dreaming?

Wakeful Consciousness Artist Residency, Kings College.

We would like to announce that the Artist in Residence selected for a major new grant project with Kings College London researching ‘Wakeful Consciousness’ is Art Academy London BA Programme Leader Alison Hand. 

The academic interdisciplinary project investigates how dreams compare to wakeful experiences.  Can you dream all your wakeful experiences? If not, why not? What might ‘exclusively wakeful states’ reveal to us about the secrets of human consciousness?

Working with Dr Vanessa Brassey, Professor Matt Soteriou, Dr Sacha Golob, and Dr Tom Crowther, the residency will explore new philosophical and scientific research into the experience of dreams and wakeful states of consciousness, culminating in an exhibition of new paintings made in collaborative response to the research in 2023. 

“We are delighted that Alison has agreed to be the Artist in Residence on our project on Wakeful Consciousness. We are very excited about working collaboratively with Alison on contrasting perspectives in wakefulness and dreams, and Alison’s work will offer a fascinating contribution to our exploration of these issues.”

Professor Matt Soteriou, King’s College London

Alison Hand, Artist, Instagram: @alisonhandartist

Wakeful Consciousness: Awake or Dreaming?

Lead Professor Matt Soteriou (Philosophy KCL) and Dr Sacha Golob (Philosophy KCL)

Support: Dr Jonathan Gingerich (Law KCL) and Dr Vanessa Brassey (Philosophy KCL)

How do dreams compare to wakeful experiences? Can you dream all your wakeful experiences? If not, why not? What might ‘exclusively wakeful states’ reveal to us about the secrets of human consciousness?

Henry Fuseli
The Nightmare, 1781
oil on canvas

Surprisingly perhaps, and despite the intense neuroscientific focus on the human mind in the past 100 years, academics remain confused about the precise difference between wakeful and sleep consciousness. The language of scientific studies reflects this by failing to distinguish between dreams, parasomnias, and wakeful states of mind. The assumption seems to be that our dream experiences and wakeful ones are duplicates of each other. But this seems at odds with our common intuitions. There seems to be a tang, air or ambience about sleep states that is not present in our wakeful experiences. We seem not only to go somewhere different, but our whole experiential mode seems to shift on its axis. Why is that? How can we find and agree a language that allows us to investigate it, scientifically?

In early 2022, a new and interdisciplinary research project will be getting underway at King’s College London to address some gaps in our current knowledge of wakeful consciousness. The project aims to plug research gaps in philosophy of mind and action, as well as legal implications around the boundaries between wakefulness, sleep and parasomnia. Wakeful Consciousness will also explore links to projects in the humanities from the study of the late medieval dream vision genre to the opening of Proust’s Recherche. Our project will draw on those treatments via a series of dedicated workshops, in collaboration with Prof. Vickers’ Centre for the Humanities and Health.

The project will be both disciplinary and contrastive, and looks forward to working with other research centres in order to explore as many different perspectives as possible.

Check out our previous collaboration, ‘Sense of Time’, here