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Published 07 May 2024

I heard somewhere a long time ago that nobody ever dreams of their smartphone. And that’s proof somehow that we really are living in the Matrix: the technology that controls us carefully conceals its tracks within our subconscious. Since then I’ve been haunted, looking for my phone in my dreams. But somehow it’s true: the object I spend the most time with is the one that never appears to me at night. I’m blessedly free of it in Morpheus’ realm, this thing I can’t stand and can’t bear to part with. No texts, no screen, no videos and no Siri. Just me and my analog explorations, nightmare and daydream unmarred by the digital turn. Living in a simulation is a small price to pay for such freedom.

The dreamscape of others is a somewhat contentious and inaccessible space. I have the sense that dreams, that last vestige of creativity free from exploitation (yes, I’m talking about labor in the arts), too easily become bleached with overuse. As soon as we try to pin them down they lose all substance, any real interest. They are unable to bear the burden of structured interpretation. The individuality of the dream is such that when a collective one appears, it must be nurtured.

Which is why this digital zine, as a collective moment of dream exploration, is all the more powerful. The theme of Exit Night, Enter Light – nightmares/daydreams – and its title (taken and twisted from a Metallica song) were chosen democratically as the most interesting and fruitful topic for exploration by the first-year master students in Contextual Design at Design Academy Eindhoven. Over a period of three months, they conceptualized, designed and produced this document of the dream in all forms. It’s an upside-down project, latching on to the functionalities of The Couch but operating in a dream facade where up is down, left is right and front is back.

A scene from the making of Exit Night, Enter Light at DAE

Perhaps you are calling to the absurd, surreal aesthetic of a fleshy toilet spinning in the dark or a chair melting like silicon. Or you alight upon the Korean snake dream (which pregnant people experience before giving birth) or the unknowable Malagasy monsters or the sound of snowy forest in Oslo. Or you gain access to a trip to a masc barbershop that you’d never go to; catch a snippet of Harry Belafonte singing about bananas; don armor you’re not allowed to wear. There’s more - much more.

I want to thank the incredible students of Contextual Design for throwing themselves into this project and taking on tasks outside their classes. They are brilliant, clever and truly collaborative. I won’t name them all - you just need to get to know them through their contributions. I also thank Afaina de Jong for making this project possible and Melisa Cenik for (needed, critical) advice and developing the concept. And most of all, a huge thank you to Sophie Keij for leading the students through the process of collective design, and Simon Dirks for his wizardry in making the students’ design come to life in this website. And of course Design Academy Eindhoven for facilitating this project, which I surely hope we can repeat next year.

A tendril of dream logic escapes through the structures of The Couch and onto your screen. Let the zine entry you need most float up to you, attracted by the scent of your subconscious. And may you dream freely.

We collected all sources in one place, so you can browse through them all.

In this series