I had an extremely lengthy and lucid dream
last night. Most of it was a visual, aesthetic
experience. Some of it was quite abstract
, but I'll do my best to convey it here. I actually woke up at 4 AM and tried to write it all down, Coleridge
-style, but it's difficult.
I am in a maisonette apartment. There are three or more small floors connected with steep staircases. The place is dimly lit ... mainly uplighting, with some areas not lit at all. On the lower floor there are swimming pools and (I think) a hot-tub. On the main level (first floor) there is a lounge with futon-like sofas built into the walls (diner cubicle style) and opposite the narrow entrance corridor there is a dark dining room (there may be more rooms, but they are out of sight). There is a steep staircase to a better-lit upper room. Most of the action takes place at the junction between the dining, living and lobby areas.
We find out that this is John Carmack's apartment. Carmack (heard, but unseen) and John Romero are here. They are demonstrating something to me. Carmack is running the demo and Romero is interjecting with quips and encouragement. (I don't realise quite what's going on at first). When Carmack says a certain phrase, a set of menus and UI objects unfold in my field of vision (they're totally flat, as though superimposed on a screen). A quarter-circle of bright chrome appears (presumably where John has "clicked") and a bar extends from that like a dock in Enlightenment. A window body drops down from this bar like a window blind. The window dressing is all brightly coloured (aluminum?) chrome, and the text and panels are mint green and olive respectively. Text is coffee brown rather than black. Each time Carmack instigates this routine, a whole bunch of floating windows and tools appears simultaneously. Some are menus of items, others are filled with dials and radiobuttons, and still others contain chinese pictograms (called when Carmack quotes a chinese proverb ... much to Romero's amusement) , soundwaves, and pallettes of all kinds of things. At a stroke, they all disappear again. The most impressive thing about this animate, photorealistic display is that everything sprouts from the point where the cursor is pressed, at branching right-angles. After a few times of doing this (to illustrate different points in his speech), Carmack shows the piece de resistance : a cross-shaped super-menu entitled HyperTexture (I note that there are several real-life programs bearing this name, but I'd never seen them). If you've ever used Fractal Design Painter, you'll know about the "tubes" of paint that allow you to stamp leaves, coins, jigsaw pieces, etc. on the canvas complete with drop shadows and alpha. This looked like an extension of that. Each "menu" was a rack of slightly-different leaves, branches, pine-cones, twigs, pieces of bark. As they are overlapping so profusely, sub-headings mark out different types of object (I recall something like Deciduous 1-20, Deciduous 21-40 ... on some of the flora). I have written on my notepad "bird footprints and feathers" although I think these were in a more traditional menu (like Photoshop's). Carmack moves this awesome construct slightly out of the field of vision, and shows that the whole background is being used as a flat canvas (in the middle of drawing a rotting, ivy-strewn stone wall).
He then closes all this, and I go to leave. I take a wrong turn and end up in the upstairs room that John had told us not to go in. There is a neon blue glowing cabinet (like a shower cubicle) in one corner. On a dresser to my right there is an incredibly furry mohair sweater/towel. I go back out and wonder why we weren't supposed to go in there. As I am trying to leave later, I end up in one of the swimming pools, believing it would be quicker to cut across it than negotiate the path. I find that the water is sluggish and difficult to swim in. I take in a huge swallow of water, but surface again and climb out. My Dad is here now (I think my family or some other people have been waiting in the leisure area of this floor). He asks me if I found the water difficult to swim in. I say yeah. He seems to be as puzzled about this as I am.
The thing that was most impressive about this dream was the UI design. It was incredible. I can still remember it quite clearly. There were no specific applications running, just dozens of control windows placed (I presume manually) to cover any task. No desktop. No files. Oh, and the mint green writing that was used to label components was remarkably similar to the heading text on Everything 1.
I had another dream when I drifted off again, about me and a friend visiting Boy George's house, where he'd set up a LAN. His dog (a chihuahua type thing) was angry. We had to let it look at dog porn on one of the computers. I remember we were all "prepared" for the dog to do this, and when it clicked on a link, we all turned away quickly with our eyes shut. I mention this dream merely out of completeness, it seems to be a programme filler for the other dream, which was the main feature.