Emily Kray

You Can Only Turn Left

You Can Only Turn Left investigates the blurry state between sleeping and waking where memories fade into dreams, and reality feathers into the fantastic. The expansive nature of our unconscious rivals that of the mysteries of deep space and the depths of our oceans, and reveals to us the limitless potential of our own humanity. Dreams throughout history have been the vehicles for new discoveries, spiritual awakenings, divine interventions, and a place to revisit the absurd theater of life. By untangling and studying my own dreams, I have compiled a personal lexicon of the symbols that appear and reappear to me, referencing my personal truths, absurdity, and the beautiful mundanity of my waking life.

In these artworks, as in dreams, the observer is riddled with the question of agency. The interactive narrative included in the exhibition explores this notion as it simulates the liminal hypnagogic state before one’s body falls asleep. The hallucinations experienced within this simulation force the player to bounce between different states of consciousness while tossing and turning in bed. Both the player and the character lack control in this scenario, thus offering a challenge to be a mentally flexible dreamer and an attempt to achieve lucidity.

The subjects represented in this body of work appear from the black abyss. Dense, inky mist distorts and emphasizes their form. They are hidden and uncovered simultaneously, offering both questions and answers. Each work is a morphing riddle, or a liquid puzzle. By resisting the urge to impose our credulous desires upon these dreamy experiences, these symbols can exist in a realm detached from logic. The subjects within these works offer opportunities for new perspectives, new possibilities, and instances to practice nonattachment to our logical tendencies.

MFA 2023 Thesis Exhibition