Book Review: “Souvenirs of Sleep” by Ling Ang (@lingangtweets @MomentoPro_AU)

Image thanks to: Momento Pro

The great Leonardo da Vinci once asked: “Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?”

To this, perhaps American playwright, screenwriter and novelist Marsha Norman had the best answer: “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

Indeed, if sleep is a journey alone through the night, an involuntary expedition into our innermost desires and fears, then dreams may be seen as the souvenirs we pick up along the way – or so proposed by Melbourne-based filmmaker Ling Ang.

Ang is an established artist with a decade of productions spanning across the United Kingdom, United States, Asia, Europe and Australia. One can only imagine how her visions, experiences and perceptions of the conscious world may seep into her dreams.

To discover this, Ang has been documenting her dreams since September 2018. Her recently published photo book Souvenirs of Sleep is an ambitious and visually aesthetic attempt to illustrate these “narratives” of her subconscious mind.

The book is truly beautiful, with photographs printed on transparent page inserts that “act as a veil over the dream text underneath”. In Ang’s words, these give the reader “a sense of the lucidity throughout the book – like a window into the subconscious”.

The book also has a custom printed linen cover co-created by graphic designer Ned Rahmanovic and lovingly produced by Momento Pro. It matches the theme of dreaming while granting a sense of dignity to both the dreams and the photographs.

But the most curious part of the book is the text. Each of the “narratives” begins with “I dreamt of…” or “I dreamt that…” and is arranged either as a solid paragraph or in a shape or form related to the dream itself.

For example, the sentences can be transformed into the shape of an anchor, an arrowhead, a musical note, a keyhole, a ball, a leaf, a lightbulb, or even a coffin. The creative and fun design adds much visual interest to the book’s content.

More importantly, as these “narratives” of the author’s subconscious mind contain only descriptive words, the myriad ways in which they are presented – as images and/or in combination with photographs – may be seen as the dreamer’s attempts to interpret her dreams. Like the photographs, the innovative imagery piques the reader’s interest.

In this sense, the book transcends its rich textual content and allows the author to playfully engage in a visual conversation with her reader. In the words of Ang:

“[The book] includes recurring themes from my childhood and relationships, including hedonism, trauma and the afterlife. Familiar landmarks turn into the locations of a sci-fi fantasy and I invite the readers into a private world of universal vulnerabilities, challenging them to explore their own inhibitions.”

Souvenirs of Sleep was launched in conjunction with National Gallery of Victoria’s Design Week and Melbourne Art Book Fair 2021. The book is available from Ling Ang’s website (, where more information about the artist can be found.

Note: This review was originally published under the title “Embrace sleep souvenirs” by Ranges Trader Star Mail, February 8, 2022, P.10.

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