Bite! magazine » I Suffered Vivid Nightmares That Stayed With Me For Days

Within Shadows by Susan Burnstine October 15, 2010


Susan Burnstine is an award winning fine art and commercial photographer originally from Chicago now based in Los Angeles. Susan is represented in galleries across the world, widely published throughout the globe and has also written for several photography magazines, including a monthly column for Black and White Photography Magazine (UK). She was nominated for the 2009 Santa Fe Prize for Photography and the winner of various awards including B&W Magazine’s 2008 Portfolio Spotlight Award.

Next / / Previous / /

Artist Testimonial

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.Carl Jung

This ongoing body of work explores the fleeting moments between dreaming and waking – the blurred seconds in which imagination and reality collide.

As a child, I suffered vivid nightmares that stayed with me for days. Often, I would walk around not sure if I was dreaming or awake, as the lines between the two remained blurred. Existing within the shadows of the unconscious made life a curious synthesis of magic and reality. Portals to the unknown emerged, offering me pathways that seemed to bridge the gap between real and unreal, life and death. Though the intensity of my dreams did not lessen as an adult, my response transformed. Initially, I was lost within the haze of my dreams. But now, it is through my dreams that I truly see.

Conceived as a trilogy, this project is presented in three successive chapters, On Waking Dreams, Between and Flight, which explore three states of mind: dreaming (subconscious), sleeping (unconscious), and waking (conscious). To create the images, I recall a significant metaphor, contemplative moment or pathway into the unknown from a dream the night before. I then capture the fading memory on film that very same day using details from my own imaginings to tap into the collective unconscious.

For these series, I wanted to find a way to portray my dream-like visions entirely in-camera, rather than with post-processing manipulations. To achieve this, I created twenty-one hand-made film cameras and lenses that are frequently unpredictable and technically challenging. The cameras are primarily made out of plastic, vintage camera parts and random household objects and the single element lenses are molded out of plastic and rubber. Learning to overcome their extensive limitations has required me to rely on instinct and intuition – the same tools that are key when attempting to interpret dreams.

Visit Our Crowd Sourcing Area

Check out our AppSlides/Bite! Crowd Sourcing Area where you can actively support the development of a beautiful iPad photo essay app - Ceci n'est pas Paris, by Susana Paiva.