DreamDoc: Uzhhorod


DreamDoc: Uzhhorod
Project by Alexandra Lerman

Photos from the premiere: Oleksandra Liven, Petro Ryaska

“DreamDoc” is a project completed during Alexandra Lerman’s time with the Cultural Capital Introspection program at the Sorry no Rooms Available residency and conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DreamDoc originated from considering the proposition that during sleep humanity experiences a sort of collective dream, and within this collaboratively sourced mindscape each person is only able to see a fragment of the whole narrative. Lerman proposed this notion to a group of Uzhhorod artists and asked them to collect these discrete dream fragments and edit them together to assemble a “dream documentary” to potentially discover what the sleepers of Transcarpathia dream and ‘nightmare’ about.

Using their smartphones the artists collected “witness accounts,” dreams orally recounted and recorded on camera by friends and strangers alike, and together they reverse-engineered several versions of the “original plot” of the dreamwork to create a series of films sourced from the same shared footage. These accounts of the dreams and nightmares became “found objects” out of which a bricolage of new narratives congealed. Upon completion of the project, the “collective memory” of the dream was returned to the city in the form of an event in which the completed film was projected onto the walls of the now-defunct “Uzhhorod Cinema” on October 28th. 

The project unfolded throughout nine Zoom sessions, which consisted of Lerman’s presentations on the subjects including the history of film language, how the film is used by visual artists today, and discussions around the sourced dream footage collected for the project. Throughout this process, Lerman utilized the essay by Hito Steyerl “In Defense of the Poor Image” as an organizing principle and manifesto on mobile filmmaking, to think (and dream) through the contemporary phenomenon of the ubiquitous low-resolution image (and sound) as captured by the smartphone. Together with the participants, Lerman led discussions on techniques to implement the smartphones as a video camera, presented a range of accessible lighting techniques to optimize visual effects, and sketched out a history of different narrative compositional strategies that can be deployed to edit together a sourced collection of oral accounts, cutaways, and live sound – to construct what Roland Barthes once named the “third meaning” of cinema.

DreamDoc: Uzhhorod
by Alexandra Lerman
15 min, HD, 2020

Created with the participation of the artists Anastasia Kostiv, Viktoriia Dorr, Attila Hazhlinsky, Danylo Kovach, Petro Ryaska, Kasha Potrohosh, Leo Trotsenko, Eugen Korshunov, Alexandra Liven, Raivis Kapilinskis, and Daniel Kosinski. The project was organized by Lika Volkova and Petro Ryaska. Music by Nate Young and John Olson

DreamDoc is a writing tool, a word processing tool like GoogleDoc. Like Google Maps it’s a way to travel around the world when your body can’t cross borders. Borders are often contested. Borders are inefficient containers for languages and ideologies. They are especially inefficient at containing nightmares. DreamDoc is a project designed to cross borders of intimacy and communities and dream up new scenarios. DreamDoc is more like a TV show than a film.

The first season of DreamDoc is filmed by a group of Ukrainian artists in Uzhhorod. I asked them to collect the dreams and nightmares of other artists, friends, and strangers revealing a closely-knit community of the bohemian Zakarpatia art scene. I’m grateful to have been trusted with this material by both the artists and their subjects as I tried to understand the collective subconsciousness of the place and create new narratives through editing this film. 

Once the narrative was edited together, unable to travel in person, using GoogleMaps I visited the places mentioned in the dreams to create a more complete picture. It turned out Ukraine is the perfect place for this “TV show” as it the cozy beloved town of Lviv is there as well as the first castle of Count Dracula and the infamous disaster site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which are all well documented by Google and its users. Since dreams and nightmares know no borders, the locations of the film were not limited to Ukraine and spilled into the bordering countries of Hungary for the Budapest opera and Slovakia for its UFO monument in Bratislava.

The Institution for Suppression of Individuality
by Kasha Potrohosh
5:35 min, HD Video, 2020

by Anastasia Kostiv and Attila Hazhlinsky
6:33 min, HD Video, 2020

By Raivis Kapilinskis
4:45 min, HD video, 2020

Swan, Cancer, Pike
By Viktoriia Dorr, Leo Trotsenko and Alexandra Liven
3 min, HD video, 2020

Mangri Tears
By Petro Ryaska
3:53 min, HD video, 2020

By Daniel Kosinski
1:59 min, HD video, 2020

The lectures and the project were implemented with the support of the US Embassy in Kyiv.