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  • A Machine that DreamsAn Artistic Enquiry Leading to an Integrative Theory and Computational Artwork
  • Benjamin David Robert Bogart

Arts and sciences are defined as practices that construct culturally relevant representations that function as tools exploited in our attempt to make sense of the world and ourselves. Through this research, novel contributions are made to both artistic practices and cognitive science as manifest in a computational system that serves as both a generative and site-specific artwork and as a computational model of dreaming—the Dreaming Machine.

Visual mentation is the experience of mental images and occurs during perception, mental imagery, mind wandering and dreaming. The Integrative Theory is the theoretical foundation of the model and artwork, unifies biopsychological theories and makes three major hypotheses where visual mentation: (1) involves the activation of perceptual representations, (2) is experienced due to these activations and (3) depends on shared mechanisms of simulation that exploit these representations.

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Benjamin David Robert Bogart, still image from video of mind wandering imagery generated by the Dreaming Machine, 2014.

(© Benjamin David Robert Bogart)

The Dreaming Machine uses machine-learning methods to make sense of live images captured in the context of installation. Images are generated during external perception, mind wandering and dreaming and are constructed from shared perceptual representations learned during waking. These processes differ due to varying degrees of activation from external stimuli and feedback from a predictive model. The generative methods create a diversity of imagery ranging from abstraction to photorealism. The artwork facilitates the viewer’s sense of his/her own fabricated perceptions and considers the relationships between computation, cognitive models and scientific conceptions of mind and dreaming.

Supplementary Material

Work in Progress on Dreaming Machine #3 (2014) (.mp4 99 MB)
[Click to Download] Sample of “Dreaming Machine #3” imagery generated during states of mind wandering and external perception. Video input was collected during a residency at the New Forms Festival in 2012. (© 2014 Ben Bogart)

Watching and Dreaming (2001: A Space Odyssey) (version 1) (2014) (.mp4 97 MB)
[Click to Download] Installation view of “Watching and Dreaming (2001: A Space Odyssey) (version 1)” showing imagery during external perception, mind wandering and dreaming states. The “Watching and Dreaming” body of work uses the “Dreaming Machine #3” framework to appropriate popular cinematic depictions of artificial intelligence. (© 2014 Ben Bogart. A small subset of frames from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” are included under fair use.)

A Machine that Dreams: An Artistic Enquiry Leading to an Integrative Theory and Computational Artwork (.pdf 142 KB)
[Click to Download] A Machine that Dreams: An Artistic Enquiry Leading to an Integrative Theory and Computational Artwork. PhD thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2014. (© 2014 Ben Bogart, Simon Fraser University, 2014.)

Benjamin David Robert Bogart
<>. PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, Canada, 2014.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
p. 530
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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