Lucid dreaming and the Surreal: Accessing the unconscious to produce creative visual outcomes
The unconscious has long been considered a major source of creativity and dreams have been seen as a means of tapping into this reservoir of all that is strange, unreal and sometimes disturbing. The interpretation of dreams formed an important part of psychoanalysis right from the outset. More recently, consciousness science has distanced itself from the psychoanalytical approach, likening it to ‘the Dark Ages’ of dream research [Revonsuo 2010]. The enduring power of dreams as generators of creative imagery and bizarre ideas is, however, not to be dismissed. For the Surrealists dreams were considered a revolutionary force and central to their work, and the originality of much of their output may be attributed to dream imagery.
This paper describes how it is possible to explore the realm of the unconscious through induced lucid dreaming. This has been done over a period of several years with undergraduate students from design and the visual arts as a means of engendering creative thinking. Based on the work of Johnstone  this technique allows elements of the unconscious to infiltrate the conscious mind, giving rise to unlikely and unexpected combinations of narrative and image that may produce some remarkable outcomes.
Revonsuo, Antti 2010 Consciousness: The science of subjectivity, Psychology Press, East Sussex, UK. Johnstone, Keith 1992, IMPRO: Improvisation and the Theatre, Theatre Arts Books, New York.Download Lucid dreaming and the Surreal: Accessing the unconscious to produce creative visual outcomes (97.46 KB)