Mapped In Two Dimensions

Mapped In Two Dimensions was a reactionary exercise in dealing with a set of repeating nightmares I’d been having since November 2011. Out of the initial confusion surrounding the meaning of these dreams, I decided that a good way to work through them would be to try and use photography as a method of recreation and analysis, potentially helping me decipher what exactly my subconscious mind was trying to tell me night after night. I normally am content not knowing the meaning behind dreams, but these were nightmares of the truest sense. They are very grim and haunting scenes, all of which I must encounter alone.

Most of the nightmares have a root in loss, grief and self-doubt. I’ve been struggling with accepting the loss of a friend and have held myself accountable for things outside my control. The internal guilt and inability to discuss these feelings with anyone ended up surfacing in my dreams.

This series is just as much about my process of re-creating what I felt as it is about the photographs themselves. The map imagery used in this work is selected based on a visual queue in the nightmare itself. The maps also represent an anchor-point for a journey, which is reflected both as a story in the nightmare itself as well as in the quest to discover the meaning.

I decided to branch out to include other models, as it became clear to me that many of the feelings expressed through these pieces are transcendent. Loss and guilt are more widely shared emotions among humankind than we like to admit. It’s a beautiful constant in this life: the ability to weather the loss and pain and carry on. We are intrepid.

Selections from the series:

©Melissa Olson, 2014
Bridget & Ryan
©Melissa Olson, 2012
April 25; bright spots sometimes fade
©Melissa Olson, 2013
©Melissa Olson, 2012
California Girlsss


Square Records, Akron, Ohio
October 2014

Jupiter Studios, Alliance, Ohio
April 2013

June ArtHop
P*DE*Q, Fresno, California
June 2012

H&S Pop-up Show
Pacific Southwest Vault, Fresno, California
August 2012


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