Dream Director


The Dream Director is a touring installation by artist Luke Jerram intended to alter dreams. It continues the artist’s exploration of creating art inside people’s heads (‘on the edges of perception’) rather than in the physical world. Participants in the Dream Director (usually 20 in total) stay overnight in specially designed sleep pods.

Each participant wears an eye mask which detects Rapid Eye Movement. When a mask detects the participant is in REM – and is therefore probably dreaming – the participant is played a short sound clip through speakers embedded in his or her sleep pod. Each participant is assigned a certain sound set for the night, although they do not find out what sounds they were being played until the following morning (after they have written down any dreams they had).

Each sound set is a group of sound effects with a specific theme: early experiments showed that being played a wide variety of sound effects confused and exhausted the sleeper. By playing themed sounds to sleepers when they are dreaming, it is hoped to alter the content of their dreams. For instance, sound effects evoking large echoey spaces might result in dreams set in large or open spaces.

The question of whether a participant’s altered dream could be said to be art is still open to debate, and indeed Luke encourages this discussion. The Dream Director is part art, part science: participants’ dreams are analysed by sleep researchers at the University of the West of England. One possible outcome of this research is to see if techniques similar to the Dream Director can help people who suffer from sleep disorders such as recurring nightmares


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