Mapping is related to several earlier 'group investigation' projects.
Hiller's first video work, Pray/Prayer (1969) used the new medium
of video to investigate and record modified behaviour with a selected
group. In Draw Together (1972), Hiller conducted an exploration
of the telepathic transmission of images by producing simultaneous
drawings with artists in other countries. For Street Ceremonies
(1973), the artist and more than 200 invited participants marked
the geographical and social boundaries of a London neighbourhood
by performing with mirrors at noon and candles at sunset on the
autumn equinox. Super-8 film and audio documentation created by
the participants survive, together with the artist's notes, numerous
photographs and other documents of the event.
In 1974, in conjunction with the writer David Coxhead, Hiller
published the book Dream: Visions of the Night. The previous year,
while working on the book, she conducted a group investigation
into the 'origin of images and ideas' called The Dream Seminar
(1973). In this work, twelve participants met for twelve weeks
to discuss their dreaming and their subconscious interaction or
'dream meetings', documenting their progress in notes and audiotapes.
For Dream Mapping, Hiller invited 10 participants to develop a
graphics system of recording their dreams.
for three nights, they all slept outdoors in an area of the Hampshire
countryside with an unusual occurrence of fairy rings, or circles
formed by the marasmius mushroom, chosen because of the myth that
if you sleep within one of these circles, you can enter fairy-land.
Each participant was given a notebook with a map of the dream
site on the cover. Every morning they recorded their dreams using
the system of note-taking that they had developed earlier. They
noted the similarities and differences among the dreams by the
making of collective dream maps, in which they took all of the
individual diagrams from each day and superimposed them to create
a group notation.
For her solo exhibition at the ICA in London in 1986, Hiller evolved
a form of presentation for this material, displaying the open
notebooks in individual vitrines, and reproducing a considerable
number of the participants' dream maps and diagrams as large wall
summing up this period of Hiller's work in Musics magazine in
1976, John Sharkey wrote: No role is allocated to an 'audience'.
The participants are passive and active in both the viewing and
participating sense, and what occurs among the group is an enactment
or, more appropriately, an enacting, of the work... The artist
is a participator, as well as the originator, of all her projects.
Once the over-all form has been set... she is happy to move into
the background and as participant take part in the realisation
of the work... Susan Hiller's original approach combines various
roles, as artist, in giving form to an amalgamation of idea, as
producer in organizing people and finance, as a participant in
the actual work, and documenting the outcome... [The dream maps]
are art(ifacts) showing the process of art through dreaming. They
'belong' to the artist only insofar as they provide a record of
the group adventure...
from Susan Hiller, Tate Gallery, Liverpool: 1996.
Copyright 1996 Tate Gallery and Rebecca Dimling Cochran.