In 2008 I began a small project called Dream Syntax – a dream journal which not only collected stories of my dreams but also the drawings of the spaces within my dreams. I have just self-printed and hand-bound the textual portion of this project, which consists of 102 dreams from the years 2008 to 2013.
On Dream Syntax: If the spaces and urban configurations of a city have the ability to affect the way we inhabit it, shouldn’t the spaces in our dreams have the potential to influence us as well, since we experience them just as intensely as our everyday reality? The city exists largely in the memories of its inhabitants, and places in a rapidly changing city may be erased from existence as quickly as a hazy dream evaporates in the early morning. Who is to say then that dreams are of no consequence? Our memories of our dreams are no less tangible than the memories of the real places that we remember ourselves once inhabiting—places which, in reality, exist only in our imagination.
For THE ARTIST, THE BOOK AND THE CROWD, I was asked to rewrite a book that was of significance to me. There are very many books that have influenced me and my own work; my first degree had been in English Literature, and you could say that reading and writing will always be my first love. Although there were many works to choose from, I decided to rewrite my own book.
On A Dream Generated From Other Dreams: “Since 2008, I’ve been collecting my dreams in the form of texts and maps of interior spaces, in an attempt to articulate a ‘dream syntax’. In 2013, I began experimenting with a simple Markov Text Generator written in Python. I was interested in using it to generate ‘predictions’ of what I might be dreaming next by applying it to the data I have collected from my dreams over the last few years. A Markov text generator uses a Markov chain to generate the next word in a sentence, and it is commonly used to generate spam text which looks superficially authentic. The choice of the next word depends only on the word preceding it, and there is no real memory or computation of grammar involved. The entire text is simply assessed in terms of what words have a higher probability of being used after each subsequent word. This allows one to generate a ‘real-looking’ text that repurposes words from a master text, through a very simple mechanism. This is a generated ghost of a dream, parsed from the last 6 years of dreaming.”
The book and the print will be at shown at THE ARTIST, THE BOOK AND THE CROWD at The Substation Gallery, from 2 to 11 August 2013, a show about artists’ relationship with books and the written/spoken word. Curated by Ho Rui An, Ang Siew Ching and Karen Yeh, THE ARTIST, THE BOOK AND THE CROWD features new and recent work by Song-Ming Ang, Stephen Black, Sze-Yenn Cheong, Heman Chong, Debbie Ding, Ho Tzu Nyen, Ho Zhen Ming, Godwin Koay, Michael Lee, Lee Wen, Susie Lingham, Joyce Teo, Yu Mingyi and Zhao Renhui.
You’re invited to come to the opening tonight (1 August 2013) at the Substation at 7pm! I will be reading excerpts from my book.
The Book Binding Process
I read books all the time, and going by my pigheaded kind of logic, since I read so many books I should KNOW how to make my own books. Piffle and bosh, I thought it would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately this is a very labour intensive work. This took numerous hours to complete at a time that I already had too little time to spare. I was there sewing for hours. I decided to embark on it because I already had all the tools – a suitable awl, a bone folder, some thread, a needle, some PVA glue, and a cutting board. Actual professional bookbinders, PLEASE AVERT YOUR EYES NOW, or else you will see that my stitching is horrifyingly messy and because I made it up.
I used Cheap Impostor to do the imposition for this book, which consists of 208 pages, or 13 signatures of 16 each (4 pages). Its a shareware program which costs USD$35, and I know there were many many “free” alternatives but to be honest I didn’t have so much time to waste tweaking things forever and this just did the job. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I will pay for applications and software if they do the job, especially coming from the perspective of someone who has gotten paid to write code before. So I registered the licence, and within 5 minutes of downloading it, I was on my way to make an imposition of the book that was absolutely perfect for my duplex printer. One another note is that you must select LONG-EDGE BINDING when printing with a duplex printer that ejects paper the short side first.
The Final Binding
Book aficionados may describe my binding as a “creative mix between a coptic stitch and long stitch”. Or, a big amateurish mess of red thread. You may be wondering, “Debbie, why did you use red thread to bind your book together? Was it because red threads represent the red string of destiny or fate in many east asian cultures including our own?” Well the answer is a lot more quotidian. I mainly had four spools of threads in my posession at the time of binding. I could have bound it with white, red, yellow, or green thread. However, I had a lot more of this red thread than the white, yellow and green threads. The white, yellow, and green had come from a pound store in London in a box of 12 spools for a pound, so you can imagine it seemed a little dodgy as well. The white would have been my first choice but i was almost out of it as white is often one’s first go-to colour for sewing things back together. But… I had lot of red thread because these had been cast-offs from a friend’s overzealous shopping trip at Ikea…
BUT HEY WHATEVER, I’VE MADE MY OWN BOOK!