January 1st, 1999 - May 1st, 1999

Categories: VR Art


The Dreambox project is a collaboration between digital media artists and scientists to create a dynamic virtual environment that reflects the subconscious meaning of symbolic objects arranged in space. The influence and interaction of multiple users creates a persistent and ever evolving elucidation of our collective consciousness.

It has long been held that humans consistently recognize and internalize the meaning of certain primal symbols. Early twentieth century psychologists such as Carl Jung called these symbols archetypes and felt they held a permanent place in our subconscious minds. In an effort to gain insight into the minds of their patients, psychiatrists developed a technique through which physical artifacts are used to create scenes in a box of sand. This technique, called sandtray analysis, seeks to gain insight into the workings of the subconscious mind by interpreting the arrangement of these archetypal symbols by the conscious mind.

Each of the artists in the Dreambox project has developed symbolic objects for placement in a virtual environment. The Dreambox user begins by arranging a scene with the available objects in a virtual sandbox. Unlike the static physical objects of a sandtray, Dreambox objects respond to their arrangement dynamically. Based on their relative proximity, the Dreambox objects take on an array of different manifestations and behaviors. A key next to a boundary may create an opening, yet a house next to a boundary may form a prison, while a house next to a key may evoke a church. This dynamic behavior seeks to illustrate the meaning behind the placement of the objects in the virtual environment.

Through the use of tele-immersive collaboration, each user entering the world is invited to make a personal contribution to the Dreambox experience. Each participant then becomes a Dreambox object in the world, taking on attributes and influences in line with their changes to the arrangement of the scene. The interaction between Dreambox objects and the motion of multiple Dreambox participants creates an unfolding narrative of sight, sound and motion. And, as users enter and make their contributions to the evolving state of the Dreambox world, a deeper shared meaning develops for all to see.