Jared Pike: A Descent into the Dream Pools.
This is the third installment in the "Internet Cultural Movement series written by Artist Marcel Mensah. In this series we take a deeper look into internet aesthetics and strange visual movements spanning the history of the net. If you're new here - you can read an introduction to the series here - Introduction to Internet Aesthetics and Cultural Movements.
The Dream Pools...
Long solitary hallways, covered in repeating square tiles stretch indefinitely.
Sterile, chlorinated water fills every room to stomach height - just low enough for you to move, but too high for you to move very quickly.
Rooms illuminated by windows that, mysteriously, can not open, and are always too foggy to see through.
No, you’re not at your local YMCA - you’ve entered the DREAM POOLS.
The dream pools are a recognizable and fairly landmark subgenre of the POOL CORE aesthetic style. It’s a fairly new body of work compared to some of the other aesthetics we’ve taken a look at in this series (the backrooms, Liminal spaces, Weirdcore etc.) - but it fills a very interesting void in the internet cultural movement that we'll be exploring today.
What are the Dream Pools?
The Dream Pools are a subgenre of the Pool Core Aesthetic - “an aesthetic consisting of images of pools which give off an eerie or peaceful feeling or vibe” - ref.
These can, and usually are just photographs of real life pools, but the more outlandish images are typically 3d renders /artwork. (I’ve included some broad Poolcore examples below).
The Dream Pools, which we’ll be looking at today, shares a lot of basic themes and imagery from its parent genre - but what makes it special Is that the “Dream Pools” is actually an ongoing series of 3D art pieces by New York Designer Jared Pike. This, unlike most other liminal space or -core collections which are not “series” being published by a specific author.
In the project's lifetime, The Dream Pools have developed a cult following with many fans contributing to the “lore” of the Dream Pools by writing fanfiction, developing games, and even creating fanmade “found footage” videos. Alongside this, the Dream Pools have also become a really interesting example of an “internet aesthetic” for a few reasons.
For one, The Dream Pools is a project that has an identifiable author - Jared Pike. When we look at other bodies of more “contribution based” community projects like the backrooms, Dreamcore etc. it’s very difficult to point to the artist or 'aesthetician' that large chunks of the genre can be attributed to. This is not the case for the Dream Pools.
As a body of work, the Dream Pools are also especially interesting because of the series’ size, consistency, and artist recognizability.
So, how can we recognize the Dream Pools and/or Poolcore adjacent work? (One of my favorite questions when it comes to any aesthetic) Key traits of the Dream Pools imagery include:
There is a deep sense of endlessness to the “halls'' of the Dream Pools. Throughout the series there is always a corridor left to explore, a turn untaken and a dark hallway beckoning you forward.
There is a complete lack of human presence - with an emphasis on “human”. We say this because the environments in the Dream Pools feel unlivable, nearly un-traversable and fairly daunting. But it never tells you that something else doesn't reside there.
(Often) The imagery shows highly curated and pristine interiors with an absence of anyone or anything to enjoy(?) them.
There is no way to tell the time in the Dream Pools. There are no clocks, no windows, no sunlight and no aging. What is, seemingly, always was. Because of this there is no way to develop a rational understanding of how time works in the pools. Despite this, there is “night” and “day” imagery in the Dream Pool series - but the images themselves don’t allow you to understand how that works either.
Similar to level 1 of the backrooms, the materials used in the architecture seem to repeat forever, and the only substantial variation from room to room is variation in the scale and complexity of the room the viewer is in - never the materials or architecture style.
Building off of the above, the Dream Pools don’t seem to be from a recognizable time period. Its “pieces” are reminiscent of things we feel like we’ve already seen - but in all instances the pools reject taking a firm stance on when or where its architecture comes from.
The Perceived philosophy of the Dream Pools:
Similar to other aesthetic movements, there are essentially 2 ways to enjoy the Dream Pools.
First, you can consume them at a surface level.
Enjoying the captivating imagery, getting lost in the mystery of the ever stretching poolscapes, and simply enjoying the pieces for what they are - works of art.
For those who don’t want to dig deeper, or who may not have other pieces of media to reference the Dream Pools against, this is a fantastic way to enjoy the collection. It’s fun and fills us with a sense of deep awe.
Second, we can take a step back and take a more nuanced approach to digesting the Dream Pools.
Connecting the Dream Pools to Liminal Spaces:
To Recap, Liminal spaces are locations that are what we call “transitory in nature” and invoke a deep sense of unease and / or nostalgia. For example, most liminal space imagery is of hallways, parking lots, waiting rooms, rest areas, and pathways.
The unique thing about these spaces is that they are almost always dark, empty or abandoned - creating a deep sense of eeriness. We talk through liminal spaces in depth in “Internet Aesthetic Movements: Getting Lost in Liminal Space”.
Unsurprisingly there is a sizable amount of overlap when it comes to discussing liminal spaces and the Dream Pools. Often, the Dream Pools force us to ask a lot of similar questions. Questions like:
How did I (the viewer) get here
Am I alone?
Does this end? And,
What’s lurking around the corner?
How do the dream pools fit into the larger internet aesthetics picture:
The dream pools are a testament to the malleability of internet aesthetics.
It shows just how simply and how quickly a subgenre can form and develop a cult following. It also shows how important a body of work can be for an artist and the impact that that can have on the series' development.
It begs the question, would the Dream Pools have caught on if Pike only ever made one or two 3D renders? Maybe, but the chances are slim. This is an example of how, very often you the artist must show up and put in the work before viewers, lovers and soon to be cult followers can adopt the vision you're selling. As artists, creators, writers etc. It’s up to us to develop that body of work.
If you fit into one of those categories. I'll say it even simpler. If you want people to fall in love with what you bring into the world - show up for your work first. Don't let your potential go to waste being content standing at the starting line.
This speaks to the larger aesthetics ‘bubble’ because now we know the postmodern age of aesthetics can be pushed further - potentially by just a single concept and further still by an artist willing to devote time to a project they enjoy.
Much Love to Jared Pike and his fantastic (and ongoing) work in developing the Dream Pools. We’re incredibly excited to see where the series goes next.
Thanks for Reading! - Marcel M | Eat More Spiders
For a more comprehensive list of internet aesthetics and genres, check out a few of my favorite blogs / Articles:
Want to know when the next piece in the series goes live?
Sign up for our newsletter below!
Keep Reading! Check out others articles in the series below: