Anticipatory terrain (capricious dreams)

Anticipatory terrain (capricious dreams) 2017 video installation multiples
Artwork, image and photography © Perdita Phillips the-nonhuman
two looped videos with stereo sound and subwoofer in black box space edition 7/7 available $3300
Part 1 (5:46) projected onto a black wall. Part 2 (1:28) played on iPad nearer to door, about 1.3m above floor
Project: both/and 20172018
Exhibition: Another Green World 2017 Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo, Australia
Can you imagine what an kangaroo might dream? Or a landscape? Filmed primarily at Thomsons Lake, Perth, Western Australia, this video installation was comprised of two looped videos. At one end of the black box space the Part 1 (5:46) loop was playing directly onto a black-painted wall. Darker tones of the video were lost into the twilight and highlights became silvery traces in the darkened space. To the side and closer to the entrance was a shorter loop, Anticipatory terrain (capricious dreams) part 2 (1:28), played on an iPad screen at 1.3 m high. The green tones of Part 2 were made to match the muted colours of Part 1. Anticipatory terrain (capricious dreams) was commissioned for and exhibited at Another Green World, curated by Andrew Frost for the Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo August-October 2017. Part 1 is shown above (note that it is ‘as projected’ and not ‘as seen on the wall’), and Part 2 is shown below:

Catalogue statement

Marsupials dream. They dream like dogs. The kangaroo’s mouth sips and chews in tiny feverish movements and its human-like hands twitch. Its limbs shudder faintly as if it is covering many miles of country and chest rises and falls rapidly, responding to unknown exertions. Rats are known to dream of scenes and experiences from the day just past (Masibay, 2001), so perhaps the kangaroo is reliving a field of green grass or bounding away from a perilous encounter. Humans can guess at the Umwelt of animals but will never know a complete account. Is it possible to think of this not as limiting, but rather experience how it opens us up to conjecture? Our long-standing assumptions about nonhuman agency and recall are being challenged. According to recent research by Associate Professor Monica Gagliano, plants have an ability to “predict future events based on their association with past occurrences” (Wildie, 2016), somehow containing inside them some memory of the past and ability to anticipate a future.
Anticipatory terrain is about dreams and nightmares and the night landscape as a place of uncertainty and potential. The video installation contains footage from Perth’s urban wetlands, plotting the shadowy traces of Western Grey Kangaroos, which may or may not inhabit various locations. It sprang from a re-envisaging of Goya’s El sueño de la razón produce monstruos (The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters)* where the positions of dreamer and dreams might be reversed and how, along with an ethical commitment to let animals exist in their own worlds, one should also recognise how other animals are essential to our own (entangled) being.
Do landscapes, themselves, dream? That is a much harder question to answer, but even posing the question alerts us to the possibility of not the singular dream of twentieth-century modernist development, but of dreams as multiple, open-ended assemblages. And thus “we might look around to notice this strange new world, and we might stretch our imaginations to grasp its contours” (Tsing, 2015, p. 3).


Masibay, K. (2001). Sweet rat dreams. Science World, 57(13), 4-5.

Tsing, A. L. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Wildie, T. (2016, 6 Dec, 7:08pm). Plants can learn despite absence of brain, UWA study suggests. Retrieved from

*From Los Caprichos: “Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason), she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”