By Daniel Kingery
When The Dream App was first introduced, nobody could believe it. An app that actually reads, records, and interprets your dreams! The early versions were a text-based summary of your dream-events, followed by a short, horoscope-like interpretation and advice for the day. The Dream App penetrated to the dark core of what was fueling most dreams: a lack, an absence.
These desires, these voids, could be filled in any number of ways and The Dream App had no shortage of ways to suggest how to do just that. Of course, most of these suggestions took the form of products of some sort, but often also services, vacations, club or gym memberships.
At the root of much unhappiness is often sexual or emotional frustration. You could turn a filter on The Dream App for varying degrees of sexualized content. For men, this often took the form of porn, or depending on how far you chose to go, various levels of strip clubs, sex toys, escort services, sex tourism and massage parlors.
For women the lack, though sometimes purely sexual, often took the form of a longing for a more meaningful emotional connection. This found its outlet in dating sites. This had a double advantage for the advertisers, since relationships rarely resulted from these sites, the men looking mainly for sex, the women for love. The women then funneled their frustration into all sorts of surrogate activities and purchases, investing each product or item of clothing with an emotional involvement that made them continuously less fulfilled. One day a pair of shoes or a dress seemed to replace all of their emotional desires, a lover, a husband and a child all at once. The next day it seemed to them empty, lacking in all meaning and needing replacement.  The Dream App came up with a string of suggestions that fueled these desires.
Soon the software advanced to the point of visual capabilities, translating the dreams into moving images. Most dreams occur only for a few minutes every hour and a half. Still, most people did not have the time or patience to review all of their dreams and opted instead for the compressed highlights: the throes of sexual ecstasy, sailing across clear waters, flying through endless skies. Most people chose not to review their nightmares, so the dream app incorporated a nightmare filter that could be turned on or off to varying degrees.
This increased visualization led to an increased ability for people to interpret their dreams for themselves, which led to a slight decrease in revenue. To counter, The Dream App could not simply alter the dream-content: it may then no longer ring true and people would then stop using the app or mistrust it. The Dream App had to go further: it had to alter the dreams themselves.
This could not be too obvious, either. Inserting an entirely foreign dream could disrupt or disturb the user and lead to all kinds of potentially traumatic mental side effects. The dreams had to be subtly influenced, pushed just a little in this direction or that. The lacks or desires The Dream App sensed had to be brought into connection with products and services that would satisfy these, this time directly incorporated into the dreams themselves. This would often take the form of minor elements in the dream, certain objects or colors that would then appear in the advertisements custom made for the user, appearing in ways barely noticeable in order to draw an unconscious connection. This proved to be highly effective and popular and users increased as did revenue.
These changes were having a subtle effect on society. People would compare their dreams at work or on blogs or on dream-posting sites. Certain people had very popular dreams and had millions of viewers. These dreamers were then approached directly by companies and were offered millions in advertising and licensing agreements.  The most popular were cut into feature-length films more surreal and disorienting than anything previously known. Narrative was abandoned in favor of quick sequences of over-saturated dream images.  The advertisers would place ads not only before or after the dreams, but within the dream-images themselves. This time, the dreamers were aware of the intervention and demanded high-prices for dream-incorporated advertising.
Dating services become gradually more effective, as pure frustration led to depression, de-motivation, decreased activity and a lack of sales. By pairing users based on their dreams, these services could now match people based not on superficial interests, but on a deeper psycho-sexual make-up; an insecure man could be paired with a self-confident woman, a masochistic woman with  a more sadistically-oriented man. For hetero- and homosexuals alike, the right balance could be found between dominance and submission, emotional and sexual appetite, need for intimacy and drive for independence.
The Dream App could cut to the core of each user’s relationship to their parents from an early age and use this to determine their current psycho-sexual make-up and compatibility with others.
Of course, profits were highest with singles, so the success rate could not be too high. The right balance had to be found between satisfaction and frustration. And children were also a source of income and future potential users, especially if their parents had met on a dream-enhanced dating service. This could guarantee that from an early age children connected their dreams directly to their consuming habits, indeed to their parents, their happiness and their entire reason for existing in the world. And the more dreams that were saved and analyzed, the more effectively this could be achieved.
Soon there existed an archive of the unconscious mind of almost the whole of humanity, making social manipulation and control an unquestioned reality. The Dream App could cut deeper and deeper into both individual and mass psychology, continually refining psychologically resonant archetypes, the unconscious of the unconscious.
The benefits were far-reaching for all of humanity. There was no longer a need to know yourself now that there was a machine to do it for you. Crimes and elements dangerous to society could also be predicted in this way. Some users would be arrested based on the premonition of a crime or a criminal or overly deviant psychological make-up. The other users understood that this was done for their own safety, so there was no great outcry or protest. Why should there be? Everyone’s needs were met in a way that kept them satisfied enough with their fantasies yet frustrated with reality enough to constantly seek more satisfaction.
Society entered a new phase of complacent utopia where everyone was in control of their dreams and their dreams were pleasantly in control of them.
June 2012

Daniel Kingery
The Illusion of Control, 2012
Collage, oil, and photocopy on paper
245 × 35 cm (approx. 17.72 × 13.78 inches)

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