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Lucid Dream Bike: Expanding Possibility

Members of the Lucid Dream BIke team: Kelvin Aris, Stephen Templer, Erika Grant and Gerard Crewdson
Bicycles transformed as part of a Lucid Dream Bike event
Lucid Dream Bike ride along the Wellington waterfront
Lucid Dream Bike Matariki parade at the Wellington Waterfront
We talk to members of the Lucid Dream Bike team about the idea that sparked the creation of a magical bicycle ride through a parallel city.

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Lucid Dream Bike is an interactive bicycle performance that takes the audience on a collaboartive adventure in sound, light and music. A team of Wellington-based artists, musicians, and bicycle enthusiasts have collaborated to create an inclusive, magical performance art piece that focuses entirely on creating joy and expanding our sense of what is possible. They won the “Most Innovative Work” award at the 2016 Wellington Fringe Festival. Three members of the team, Erika Grant, Stephen Templer and Kelvin Aris talk to The Big Idea about their most audacious goals.

 “It all started with an idea” says multi-instrumentalist Erika Grant. The seed of this idea began with Dan Mikkelsen of Bicycle Junction, an essential part of the Lucid Dream Bike collaboration. Since that seed was planted the project, as is the case with all good ideas, has since expanded far beyond what they thought it could become. And it is that very concept – expanding beyond possibility -  that is at the heart of what Lucid Dream Bike is all about.

Over the course of an evening bike ride, the Lucid Dream Bike team transform Wellington into a parallel city where theatre, music, magic and possibility exist around every corner. They carefully plan out a route through the city that is unexpected, taking in as many hidden alleys and unused spaces as possible. Along the way, participants are immersed into an interactive world where collaborators pop up providing mystical, magical performance along the way. Participants remain in the familiar realms of their city, but for the time they are in the Lucid Dream Bike experience they have entered into a dream state where possiblity is limitless.

“The bicycle becomes a magical vehicle to explore and reimagine the city we live in. We are always tapping into the idea of this joyous, surreal parallel city where anything is possible, and the imagination is the vehicle that we ride around in,” says Erika. 

That anything is possible is exactly what the Lucid Dream Bike team want you to believe. This project extends beyond their creative desires to provide an evocative experience for people. They want to stimulate our social consciousness by creating art projects that are inclusive, that exist in a state of joy and that provide the essense of unlimited possiblity. Lucid Dream Bike is their challenge to limiting social attitudes. They want to challenge the ‘we can’t do that’, ‘it can’t happen’, ‘it’s too expensive’ attitudes by facilitating people to experience the “dreamer’s dream-view of what people want in Wellington.” They seek to subvert a conservative preference for efficiency and profitablity, with a wild fantasy that creates joy for joy’s sake. The bikes aren’t effcient or practical, but they are beautiful, engaging, and never fail to make people wonder at the spectacle.

“We want to help people believe  that we can do anything. There’s enough room to breathe in Wellington and people are very civic minded and creative. There is no better place anywhere to be putting better ways into motion, to harness that creativity into more mundane things as well. We want to influence people to work in a way that inspires others in everything they do,” says Kelvin.

These events are free and fully inclusive. This is an important and conscious decision made by the team. “We put on these things for everyone and for free. People can drop all other intentions and just come and celebrate,” says Erika. The participants are involved in the creation of the event from the very beginning. This is an opportunity for people to experience becoming a spectacle together which creates a sense of wonder, warmth and inclusivity that then extends beyond them to all people who they see on the ride rippling out a sense of excitement and inspiration to the wider public. “It is an art piece that everyone gets to be part of,” says Stephen.

Their dream is that through these public, all inclusive, theatrical, experiencial, joyful art forms people will be inspired to open their sense of possiblity into all realms of life. “We want to create a fantasy world that expands so much that it overtakes the reality world”, says Kelvin. Through experiencing a Lucid Dream Bike ride participants will begin to understand the power they have to contribute towards a re-creation of the whole city, a city that is not limited by assumptions around what is and what is not possible. As Erika explains,

“The ability to lead a life full of imagination comes to the fore when we build these bikes that are outrageous and full of joy. It makes people go, ‘wow!’ I didn’t know people could do that!’ They participate in something that gives them energy to imagine other possibilities. Whatever we give to others, they can then take that and make from it. They are inspired to run with it.”

Of course, as with most people working in the creative sector, this team have their hands in many other projects. Erika is a multi-instrumentalist who plays with the Orchestra of Spheres and Cookie Brooklyn and the Crumbs. She teaches piano to kids, and is currently writing the music to be performed live for a silent film. Erika says that she likes “the stress of juggling lots of things, it drives me.” But she always makes sure that at really busy times she has a holiday on the horizon or some time to relax or socialise in the pipeline.

Kelvin spends his days as a transport planner (perhaps an ‘insider’, infiltrating creativity and joy into city planning). Outside of work, he is involved in neighbourhood-focussed arts and musical projects as well as a collaboration between Wellington and Bristol artists called Pie in the Sky. When asked what he does to sustain his energies he says, “I like the idea of allowing the field to go fallow every once in awhile. From that comes a new perspective and some new ideas. I like to do nothing in January, sit on my porch and enjoy being in Wellington when no-one is around.”

Stephen works as an artist out of Honey Badger Creative Studios working both on commerical art and his own projects, and is also part of the Pie in the Sky collaboration. Lately he has been part of creating ‘The Mysterious Secrets of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium’, a fantastical story made into a podcast recently released in the United States. He says that he gets stretched pretty thin sometimes but he can’t resist the fun of great projects. He has found a balance of doing “extraverted projects”, like Lucid Dream Bike, and then what he calls his “introverted work” in his studio working on his drawings.

When asked what advice they would give other people who have big, audacious dreams, they all said that the key thing is to believe in your idea. “If you have a great idea, you don’t need anyone else to believe in it. Keep trying. Experiment, there are lots of different ways to make things happen. Test stuff out and keep believing in the idea. Don’t let things like lack of experience hold you back. This started from a good idea. We created it along the way not knowing what we were doing and that’s how it’s happened,” says Erika. Stephen advises to not “be afraid to share the idea and get people involved.” And Kelvin adds, “It can be really small. The small and beautiful things can contain as much impact as big impressive things.”

The Lucid Dream Bike team is a collaboration between Bicycle Junction, Erika Grant, Dan Mikkelson, Kelvin Aris, Gerard Crewdson and Stephen Templer - along with a plethora of artists, performers and musicians. This year they will be performing at the Hutt Valley Winter Festival and are hoping to do a Matariki Lucid Dream Bike parade along the Wellington waterfront. They are looking forward to a new collaboration with Touch Compass, a mixed ability dance studio in Auckland, where they will create a Lucid Dream Bike parade that will incoprorate both bikes and wheelchairs. 

Written by

Hannah Mackintosh

5 Apr 2017

Hannah is a Wellington-based writer, community organiser and lover of stories.

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