Thoughts & Insights

The Other Side of Thinking

We make conscious use of the capability of our brain when we are awake. But we also use it unconsciously when we are not awake. When we are asleep or falling asleep or dozing in a half-sleep we seem to switch off our brain or at least to run it on such a low level that we believe it’s switched off. But that’s just an illusion.

Because the fact is that our brain continues to operate in dream territory when we’re asleep. It creates the most amazing connections between all the knowledge and experience we have stored up in its folds. It can connect up events from the past, and even remote events from the collective memory of which we have no direct experience, with immediate events we have just experienced as easily and effortlessly as it can use these connections to throw up constructions of future reality that seem so real to us (in our dream state) that they seem not just possible but actually there. And it takes these constructions and weaves them into everything else that we might dream.

Are dreams a kind of reality? Is reality a kind of dream? There’s nothing new about these questions and attempts to answer them have provided the stuff of countless novels and poems, science fiction speculations and films like the fantastic movie Inception (“the dream is real”).

Encounters with certain types of music and certain types of painting give listeners and viewers the chance to float effortlessly in a conscious or semi-conscious state between these layers of reality – just like in a dream. And it is this “poised realm between the possible and the actual” – as Stuart Kauffman called it in his encounter with one of OUBEYs paintings – that opens up a particular space for freedom.


Art can fascinate us and cast a spell over us and in so doing it also offers us the freedom of a third level in the mind. Perhaps even more than the dreams we dream when asleep, art opens up a space for us on the other side of thinking which we would otherwise not be able to enter. And perhaps this is one of the reasons why recently in Berlin a visitor standing in front of one of OUBEYs paintings said that it reminded him of things that had never happened – an astonishing statement which has never ceased to haunt me. Many of OUBEYs unpublished drawings are a fresh exploration of this other side of his thinking which also finds expression in his paintings. Once the Global Encounters Tour is over, we will consider publication of this previously undiscovered part of his work.