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Installation: ‘Onirica ()’ by studio fuse*, L.E.V. Festival brings the mysterious realm of the subconscious to Pozu Santa Bárbara in Mieres, Spain

Text by CLOT Magazine

Pozu Santa Bárbara, a historic location in the North of Spain at La  Rebaldana, Turón, in the Council of Mieres, holds the distinction of being the first Asturian mine shaft to be declared a protected heritage of the first order. In September 2021, the mine shaft began its transformation into a hub for contemporary art interventions. The Center has now opened its doors, showcasing the impressive works of renowned artists like Anthony McCall, Herminio, Regine Schumann, and, most recently, Andy Thomas with his captivating project Visual Bird Sounds.

Onirica (), a new audiovisual installation created by the Italian art studio fuse*, opens on May 23. Curated by the L.E.V. Festival, Onirica () delves deep into the mysterious realm of the subconscious, using artificial dialects to vividly portray the creative powers of the human mind during sleep. By employing computational formulas that transform written narratives into vivid pictorial representations, this exhibit brings our nocturnal tales to life, sparking a fresh understanding of the relationship between humanity and technology and the dynamic between the creator and the tool.

fuse* is a multidisciplinary art studio that researches the expressive possibilities of emergent technologies. It aims to understand the complexities of human, social, and natural phenomena. The team at the L.E.V. Festival explains that Onirica () transforms into a collective experience of the dreams of the volunteers who participated in the research sessions at the Universities of Bologna and California Santa Cruz. The stories of this piece, selected from a pool of 28748 dreams, flow one into the other as a series of short films portraying the real cadence of dreams throughout the night in their different REM and NREM phases.

A machine learning system artificially generates the visual sequences, transforming the dream descriptions into a series of subsequent visual hallucinations, bringing life to the characters, objects, and landscapes shown here. This perpetual stream of artificial awareness achieves its ultimate form through an intimate partnership between humans and artificial intelligence. Although the machine presents boundless interpretations of narratives in visuals and sounds, it needs more capacity for conceptual discernment and aesthetic choices.

The exhibition will open from May 23 to July 28. It will encompass the entire space of the old Compressor Room of Pozu Santa Bárbara, with never-shown elements in addition to the immersive installation: in particular, a series of prints on plexiglass and an interactive screen where visitors will be able to explore the dream banks on which the work is based.

(Media courtesy of L.E.V. festival)

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