People Who (…) Have No Dreams, 2021

Installation view, exhibited at the Feminist Supermarket, curated by Niamh Brown and Mary Conlon, at Ormston House.

Foil backed plasterboard, red and blue PVC, mylar blankets, one way mirror film, LED lights, 3D animation, soundtrack, TVs, direction laser sensors, raspberry pi, arduinos.

Credits: James Poole (physical computing), Christopher Boland (technical manager), Caimin Walsh and Don Sims (soundtrack)

About the Work

People Who (…) Have No Dreams is an immersive installation that provides the conditions for people to consider the power relations of self-representation. These conditions are informed by the language of ideologies which operate to demonise difference through shame and sameness. The piece explores these dynamics by framing otherness. The title of the work is drawn from a quote by journalist, Diane Vreeland, sourced from White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf. The quote reads: “People who eat white bread have no dreams.”

The installation is divided into two parts with red lights on one side and blue on the other. These lights are controlled by sensors. When a person enters one side they trigger the lights on their own side and turn off the lights on the other. The two sides are divided by a one way mirror which is either reflective or transparent, depending on which side is lit up.

The installation contains two video works, which attach moral value to unachievable standards. The two videos are almost identical, except that they each demonise and glorify the opposite colours. Which video the viewer watches will determine how they perceive each side of the piece.

If a person watches one of the videos and then enters on the same side, they will see their own distorted reflection in the colour that has been idolised. If another person were to enter the opposite side of the space, they would have the same experience, but in the opposite colour. The first person would now be in darkness, meaning they can now see through the mirror to the second person, who is lit up. Person 1 is now seeing person 2 in the colour that was demonised in the video they watched before entering, but person 2 is seeing themselves in the colour that was glorified in the video on their side.