Night Journey is an on-going body of work examining the perceptual and psychological aspects of dreams, memory and the unconscious.
The workconsists of three complimentary forms; a suite of large-scale black and white works on paper, a video projection, and a room-size installation of murals on chiffon with sound recordings. There are currently 75 images with the goal of creating 100 for a final book of 80.
Using the shadow as metaphor, I create images that provide pictorial access to the unconscious and unexplainable experiences. These works oftentimes conjure up childhood imaginings, fairy tales and nightmares while deliberately portraying a sense of surprise and wonder. By using mythic characters and ambiguous objects, I delve into the fantastic to create phantomlike tableaux’s. The shadow throughout the series implies a sense of reality without being real. It allows fabrication of a world and a narrative that occurs only in the photograph. The scenarios and spaces portrayed are surrogates for what once was, and are now imagined.
The inspiration for Night Journey came from an inquiry into the nature of REM sleep, dreams and memory and the culmination of research conducted at the Southwestern Medical Center Sleep Laboratory in collaboration with sleep scientist, Dr. John Herman. Using myself as subject, I was tape recorded in the laboratory on many occasions while awakened from REM sleep. Taking inspiration from phrases in the transcribed audio recordings produced in the laboratory, memories and journal sketches, my interest focuses on capturing unconscious visual memory as opposed to illustrating specific dreams. I work intuitively, reading phrases to spontaneously create images with similar narratives, emotions and gestures as in the recordings. I am interested in what the dreams look like as opposed to their psychoanalytic meaning.
When fabricating environmental sets in the studio, I strive to design sets with a sense of mystery and ambiguity that provokes more questions than answers. The environments take between one to three months to create and are like a magical world. When finished, I invite models into the studio and typically spend three hours intuitively directing them through a series of gestures and poses until the narrative comes to life. At this point, the dream and inspirational phrases no longer matter. What matters is the emerging narrative. Click here to see a movie about Night Journey and the creation of a set in-progress in my Dallas studio: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TUJG8Rk4GU and here: http://vimeo.com/97842571.
Within this work, I seek to create theatrical worlds that reference the ridiculous, the tragic and the unexpected. These worlds portray a mysterious space between illusion and reality and provide entry into imaginary and whimsical creations that portray life on the lyrical and playful edge of balance and stability.
About Susan kae Grant
Susan kae Grant’s photographic and book-works are included in numerous collections, including The George Eastman House, The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Minneapolis Art Institute, The Tokyo Museum of Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Victoria and Albert Museum National Library. Grant received an MFA in Photography and Book Arts in 1979 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has conducted workshops, lectured and exhibited her work throughout the United States, Canada, China, Europe, Australia, British Columbia, Africa and Japan. Galleries representing her work include Conduit Gallery, Dallas; Verve Gallery, Santa Fe; and Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LTD, Birmingham. She resides in Dallas, Texas, USA and currently, Head of Photography and Book Arts at Texas Woman’s University and teaches workshops annually at the International Center for Photography in New York City. [Official Website]