Project Proposal 2014-2112: "Dreams of Failure"
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Title: Dreams of Failure

Material Requirements:

  • A mixed choir of 128 performers, SATB
  • Sheet music (nature of composition to be described below)
  • Sound-cancelling headphones for choir, conductor, and other attendees
  • 500 mL blood plasma from an SCP-1237-1-L-positive individual (Type O- preferred)
  • SCP Foundation Mobile Task Force Eta-11 ("Savage Beasts")
  • Foundation-grade class-W mnestics

Abstract: Dreams of Failure is a performance intended to expose members of an SCP Foundation task force to a mild reality-bending effect for the purpose of observing their reaction to belief that their lives and achievements have amounted to nothing and that they are failures as human beings. This is is to be achieved through the application of three key components; a choral piece intended to induce unconsciousness, the application of a reality-bender's blood in order to induce lucid dreaming, and injection of short-term mnestics to seal the effect in the subject's memories.

The choral piece is a 45-minute composition for mixed choir, with vocalizations consisting primarily of diphthongs chosen to highlight particular dissonances in the transition between tonal clusters, a range of clicking sounds, and rhotic consonants, interspersed with brief snippets of English language lyrics from popular music expressing themes of failure, irrelevance, and futility. Exposure to this sound collage is intended to affect sections of the brain which should induce unconsciousness and REM sleep in any listeners not wearing hearing protection.

Shortly after the induction of unconsciousness, the subjects are to be injected with a mixture of mnestic chemicals and blood plasma acquired from a person possessing the ability to alter reality via lucid dreaming. This injection, coupled with the ongoing choral performance, should induce the subjects to experience vivid dreams about real or imagined personal failures. While the reality-altering effects induced by the cocktail will not be of sufficient force to affect the real world, the end result will be that the subjects should believe that their dreams are accurate memories of real life, and the mnestic component should ensure that the memory of the dream is not lost upon awakening.

Upon conclusion of the choral piece, all performers should evacuate the performance site within 15 minutes, as subjects should begin to awaken around that time. Internal sources within the Foundation are to acquire copies of any after-action reports filed by the subjects, and any diaries or video/sound recordings made by them regarding their experience and their memories, which are to be considered part of the piece and are to be made available for viewing at the exhibition.

Intent: The Portland outbreak was the closest brush I've ever had with real and total failure. I'm not sure how long it had been floating around before I caught it off that band that inexplicably showed up at the jazz club and was allowed to play Rush for 45 minutes, but I've never been quite the same since. My life-long dreams of conducting and composing for the human voice went out the window - all I wanted to do was share the music of Rush with as many people as I could. The very next day, we had practice and I threw out the sheet music and started teaching the choir the lyrics to "Bastille Day". We nearly had it down before the Foundation quarantined the town and started doping everybody up.

Things went back to normal after that, mostly. People didn't talk about Rush the way they did during the outbreak - or about the outbreak at all, as if it had never happened. I'm not sure I got the dose of drugs I was supposed to, though - maybe they didn't give me enough, maybe I'm naturally resistant to whatever it was they dosed everyone else with. I remember almost all of it - the way the music swept through the town, the way all other forms of art just felt irrelevant. I don't feel the urge to cover Rush like I used to, but it's still there nagging at the back of my mind, like an itch needing to be scratched. I can't help but marvel at how close my career, my calling, came to being over if I'd let that urge take control.

My goal since then has been to explore the nature of failure through my music. Ever since I became part of this organization, I've been learning more and more about that 'Foundation' that stopped the outbreak, the tools they use, and the individuals who lead the quarantine. And amongst them I met Zoe, and my life changed.

I won't bore you with the details of our interactions over the years - as enemies, rivals, grudging allies. I would have told her I loved her if it wouldn't have compromised both of us. I learned so much from her over the years - and then, as my dreams had almost been plucked from me in Portland, they were plucked from me again when an accident of genetics took her from us.

Her comrades in that squad, the ones that intervened in Portland, had struck me as being so confident, so sure of themselves, so capable. What would it be like if I turned my artistic efforts in the direction of their failures as human beings? And what if, instead of just describing it to them, I could make them experience it - feel the way I had felt after Portland, the way I felt after Zoe died - and document every aspect of it? Would that not vindicate my fight against the urge in my head to give up everything and start a shitty cover band?

I have dedicated my career to the study of failure. Perhaps, through illustrating their failure, I can find success.

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