About "False Awakenings"

About "False Awakenings"

False Awakening. A vivid dream about awakening. In reality, the dreamer is still asleep.

A series of diptychs in four parts, considering the distorted notions of a dream within a dream. Misleading and conflicting details where familiar environments take on subtly different and uncertain tensions, leading to a feeling of thrill or anxiety. Within this state, everything adopts a new meaning. Some characteristics of life may be adapted or contorted and the dreamer may feel an uncanny, distrustful stress.

From an Interview - "A photographic thriller, a confession of sorts."  Pete’s name has been changed.

"I first met Pete when we were both eleven. He was from what people now call a 'difficult background'. At that time, no-one seemed to refer to Pete's difficulties at all. Didn’t refer, didn’t intervene, didn’t guide. I knew Pete for the next five years, we were friends by virtue of being grouped together without choice in an institution no-one would choose.

Pete's behaviour was reckless when I first met him, he was always the first to do something dangerous, answer back, provoke. Sometimes I’d ask Pete directly if he was alright, my question would always be greeted with the same oscillation between wanting to say and not daring to say, but his answers always referred to sleep. 

I always had the feeling from Pete that he wanted to say something. Something important, something dark. But Pete never would let anyone know what was happening or what had happened. He would always say just enough to make his audience, his very small audience, start to understand, or more accurately, guess. If anyone got too close to the truth he would select one of three tools from his basic emotional kitbag to redirect the scene - make them laugh, make them disgusted, make them cower. Pete was learning basic survival skills; honing his manipulations to make a small, safe cage about himself. A barbed cage. Very few challenged him. 

Pete was like a figurehead, an exaggerated B movie hero. Like them, he too adopted a trade-mark cigarette, even from the age of twelve - he was aiming for Jean-Paul Belmondo but looked Peter Lorre. Really, I think he was just addicted. Pete was top dog in that first year I knew him. He was also articulate, kind and even charming when his mind was clear. That was part of Pete’s problem, he would try anything he could to keep his mind from being clear.

Pete was always restless and always tired, his face showed sleep deprivation especially around the eyes, his poor eyesight worsening each year. He developed a thousand yard stare that would be unbroken until he was violently interrupted by voice or hand. 

Pete was sharp tongued and quick to react aggressively if he felt pushed. He could be brilliantly funny too, quick witted with a pitch black surreal sense of humour all his own. He was liked for a period because everyone could rebel vicariously - all the mutiny of bad language and bad behaviour with none of the risk of getting in trouble. Pete knew how others viewed him and was all too happy to take on the disruptive role in exchange for acceptance. It was as if he didn’t want to disappoint people by being better than their low expectations of him. A ceiling was set for his growth and he did his part to make sure his head never rose above. By the third year I knew him, he wasn’t just always in trouble of some sort, he was near feral and as a result had graduated from routine tellings off to regular beatings. He acted in ways that were expected of him, he was a lost cause, and therefore a loose end, he acted accordingly. It wasn’t so much a self fulfilling prophecy as a conspiracy from the outset.

His behaviour became so exaggerated, so inappropriate for any surroundings I could imagine, I often ended up thinking that actually Pete had nothing to say at all and he was just showing off. He knew punishment was coming anyway, so his conduct was the obvious voice in that worn out two-part communication. This was at a time when corporal punishment was not only legal, but was often used as a preventative measure or just to right the perceived wrongs from the lives of those who administered the discipline. I realised later that, I didn’t have the experience or years to understand why Pete acted in the way he did any more than he did. 

Pete’s popularity waned, his bizarre actions just not amusing anymore, he ended up in no man's land. Nobody’s idol, nobody’s charge. His behaviour now more erratic, the end was like the final scene of Truffaut’s "The 400 Blows" but with no poetry. Called for yet another physical punishment he was finally utterly broken. Thinking it was a dream within a dream, Pete didn’t hit back, but broke a window and jumped. I never saw Pete again.”

Part One - Weekend In The Country

"Pete couldn’t sleep, not properly, restfully. He would recount how he couldn’t tell the difference between being asleep and being awake. He described a holiday where he was convinced he had done something wrong, but couldn’t properly tell as he thought what he had done was a dream or the whole holiday was a dream. He said he was so tired, but he couldn't sleep at all in an unfamiliar place. Finally, he was so exhausted, he passed out and had dreams all night. During one dream, he relived another dream, as it pushed it's way in more like memories than a vision.

The next day, when he was sure he was awake, he couldn't separate the dreams from each other or either dream from reality. But he came back alone, that's what really concerned him, at the end of the holiday, he remembered coming back alone, and he could not understand why.”

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Part Two - Continuum

“Pete described how his restless sleep became worse if he had been in a place he wasn’t used to. He had very few days out. He recalled dreaming about being in a fairground and being so worried about winning a prize and having it taken away from him, he just stole what he could from the stall and ran. He said he was caught and did lose what he took. Pete then described how waiting for his punishment didn’t worry him as much as not winning as he would have to wait so long until he went on a day out again.

Pete said sometimes he would find things under his bed that he didn’t remember seeing before. Objects, toys, magazines that weren’t his. He said he assumed he had taken them while he was asleep.

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