Sleep to Dream

“We are such stuff                                                                                                                              As dreams are made on, and our little life                                                                                           Is rounded with a sleep.” – William Shakespeare, The Tempest


Elinor Carucci, Sleep Marks, 1997, [3.2004]


Martin Munkcsi, [Woman Sleeping], 1936, [2007.110]


Elinor Carucci, Feet Moving on Bed, 1999, [29.2002]


Jill FreedmanSleeping Child, County Kerry, 1984, [40.1988]


Vikky Alexander, Between Dreaming and Living #5, 1985, [781.2000]

A lucid dream occurs when an individual becomes aware that they are dreaming and can potentially control their actions as well as the content and context of the dream. This phenomenon is understood to happen during REM, the last stage of the sleep cycle when individuals are most likely to dream.

There are a number of techniques one can practice in order to become a lucid dreamer. One of the most basic tips is to simply remind yourself to become aware that you are dreaming right before you fall asleep. Another common technique is to practice various “checks” while awake and repeating them while dreaming. These “checks” can vary from reading the time on a clock, counting your fingers, or checking for your wedding band. By practicing “checks” while awake, you can train your brain to preform the same tasks while dreaming, thus giving you the ability become aware of your dreams in order to ultimately control them. By employing these techniques and training your brain to become aware of your dreams while asleep, lucid dreaming can become possible.


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Sebastião Salgado in Kuwait


Sebastião Salgado, Workers place a new wellhead in an oil well that had been damaged by Iraqi explosives, 1991 (2007.6.9)

Looking through the ICP archive’s library, we discovered a 1991 New York Times Magazine with a profile of Sebastião Salgado photographing workers in Kuwait battling fires in an exploding oil well. The Greater Burgan Oil field is the second largest oil field in the world, and was attacked by retreating Iraqi soldiers and set aflame in 1991. In addition to the fires, oil wells pipes burst and workers struggled to repair them.

The image is captioned in the article “The work is exhausting. It all must be done by hand because a stray spark from power equipment could re-ignite the well. For two days these men have been trying to remove a well head that was blown up by Iraqi explosives.”

Like the firefighters in the pictures, Salgado must have been working while completely soaked in oil. Despite not sharing a language, the men all have respect for the others’ task, “These guys are heroes of out time, They are doing hard, difficult work, That is part of their pride, part of their life, part of their love. It’s very important the pictures can reflect all this.”

If you’re interested in seeing more work by Sebastião Salgado, the exhibition Sebastião Salgado: Genesis, opens September 19th, 2014 at the Museum of the International Center of Photography.


Wald, Matthew L. “The Eye of the Photojournalist, Sebastião Salgado in Kuwait.”The New York Times Magazine, June 9, 1991: p.28

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Historic American Panorama of the Moon’s Surface


National Aeronautics and Space Administration, [Panorama of the Moon's Surface with Shadow of Surveyor I], June 2, 1966. Collection International Center of Photography, Museum Purchase, 2014

With the extraordinary news of China’s successful soft landing of a lunar rover on the surface of the moon on December 14, 2013, suddenly attention turned back to the history and photography of past space exploration. China was only the third country to send back pictures from the moon’s surface and the first to land a capsule there since 1976. The Soviet Union achieved the first soft landing of a spacecraft on the moon in January 1966; four months later, in June 1966, the U.S. successfully landed its own lunar probe. ICP recently acquired from a former NASA executive a spectacular early print of one of the first photographic panoramas of the moon’s surface from that very first unmanned U.S. mission. The sweeping two-by-four foot image shows the American lunar lander, Surveyor I, at the end of its first day of activity, June 2, 1966, casting its own long shadow on the rocky terrain of the so-called Sea of Storms (Oceanus Procellarum). This particular montage was compiled from 52 different television images beamed back to Earth. Surveyor I ended up transmitting over 10,388 pictures during that first day, and an additional 800 over the remaining 14 days before its batteries failed.

Chief Curator Brian Wallis

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Unidentified Photographer, [Unidentified Woman with Snake], ca. 1875 (2008.62.1)

Frank Wendt, [Barnum and Baily's Circus Snake Charmer, Miss Maxine], 1913 (2011.47.72)

Frank Wendt, [Snake Charmer], 1898 – ca. 1905 (2011.47.74)

Vu, (photo by Man Ray), July 23, 1930 (2009.52.104)

Chim (David Seymour), [Two children with a snake, San Domenico in Cocullo, Italy], 1951 (1021.2002)

takagi_madoka_2013_97_2 copy
Madoka Takagi, [Untitled], 1980s (2013.97.2)

Chim website is here.
The Frank Wendt website is here.

From Eve’s serpent to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” (the video recently set a record for the most views, 19.6 million, in a day); from a very recent female anaconda’s parthenogenesis (“that is the beauty of science… We are still discovering things that surprise and amaze us”) in a UK safari park to Serptentina at the Coney Island USA sideshow; from a tiny tintype made in the 1870s to an 8 by 10 platinum (contact) print from the 1980s, there is something timeless and indissoluble about photos of alive and real, cold blooded, legless, forked-tongue, rapacious reptiles, and slithering serpents held by humans… (“Ah humanity!”)

SSSpeaking of musssic and ssslightly irrelevant:
A seeminly endless list of obscure songs (shedding and shredding) that start with snake: Snake, Snake Apartment, Snake Appeal, Snake Bite, Snake Cave, Snake Charmer, Snake City, Snake Dance, Snake Doctor Blues, Snake Domain, Snake Dream, Snake Drive, Snake Eating Its Tail, Snake Eyes, Snake Face, Snake Girl, Snake Goddess, Snake Handler, Snake Hips, Snake in the Grass, Snake in the Hole, Snake Jam, Snake Jaw, Snake Juice, Snake Leg, Snake Lust, Snake Man, Snake Mistakes, Snake Music, Snake Oil, Snake Oil Symphony, Snake People, Snake Pit, Snake Walk, Snake Woman, Snaked, Snakes, Snakes Alive… these, and many more, (alive and real) can be heard here

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Nelson Mandela by Jürgen Schadeberg

Jürgen Schadeberg, [Nelson Mandela with Ruth First at the ANC Congress, Bloemfontein, South Africa], December 1951. Collection International Center of Photography; purchased with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2014


Jürgen Schadeberg, [ANC President JS Moroka, leader of the ANC Youth League Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Dadoo President of the South African Indian Congress, meeting outside Johannesburg Courtroom during the Defiance Campaign Trial, Johannesburg], 1952. Collection International Center of Photography; purchased with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2014

The 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa has been marked this year by a wide range of events throughout the nation, including the ICP exhibition Rise and Fall of Apartheid in 2013, organized by Okwui Enwezor. As that exhibition shows, for over 50 years photographers vividly represented and participated in the opposition to the repressive apartheid system that kept white and black South Africans segregated by law.

An early leader in the nonviolent protest movement was Nelson Mandela (1918–2013), who was imprisoned for 27 years and in 1994 became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. In this rare photograph from December 1951, the 33-year-old lawyer Mandela is shown meeting with journalist and activist Ruth First (1925–1982) at the first convention of the African National Congress (ANC), where the anti-apartheid Defiance Campaign was originally conceived and planned. The historic press image was taken by German-born photojournalist Jürgen Schadeberg (b. 1931) for the South African cultural magazine Drum, where, as picture editor, he covered the apartheid years and employed outlawed black photographers like Ernest Cole and Peter Magubane. For his distinguished 60-year career in photography, much of it documenting the life of Nelson Mandela and the modern cultural history of South Africa, in 2014 Schadeberg was awarded ICP’s highest honor, the Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chief Curator Brian Wallis

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John Cage was born 102 years ago today

David Seidner, John Cage, 1977 (2007.120.19)





The large loft on West 18th Street that John Cage shared with Merce Cunningham was a simple, sunny, skylight living-working studio… It was a magical day for me: the guru and his disciple. I said to him: “You know John, reading your book Silence at eighteen had a profound effect on me. And your encouragement over the years has meant more to me than you can imagine.” Without hesitation, he answered in his even high-pitched voice, “Yes, many people tell me that.” And we both laughed. John laughed a lot. He was goodness and generosity personified. He wasted nothing. Everything was grist for his extraordinary mill and he was appreciative of everything. He took nothing for granted. He talked about how fortunate he and Merce were to have the space, how much he appreciated any kind of recognition. He was gentle, serious, hard-working, brilliant. He was also endlessly quotable: “Avant-garde is a consumptional necessity as we’ve used up all the rest.” and “Anything can be art, all you have to do is change your mind.”

Photographs and words by David Seidner. Artists at Work: Inside the Studios of Today’s Most Celebrated Artists. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1999. pp. 42-49

Happy Birthday John Cage!
The website of the John Cage Trust:
An Autobiographical Statement from
John Cage Prepared Piano app

Another amazeballs blog post, a Fansinaflashbulb classic, about David Seidner (1957-1999) and John Cage (1912-1992) can be found here.

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Welcome Back!

Bill Wood, Billye Wood’s 5th grade class, 1950s (2010.14.186)

Chim (David Seymour), [Boy and girl, in a classroom, reading a book, Israel], 1952 (483.1986)

Chim (David Seymour), [Children sitting in a classroom, Barcelona], 1938, (2010.103.1)

Jacob Riis, Classes in Allen St. and Chrystie St. Public Schools, ca. 1888 – ca. 1898, (236.1982)



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