It will be just about 5 years since I have visited New York (and USA) for the first time. The reason for this ‘dramatic’ decision (I have to admit I was a great skeptic of American culture, politics, beliefs… well, pretty much everything but Moby, Star Wars and Teva sandals) was that Maria, my colleague from Metropolis in Barcelona has invited my friend Xana and me to extend out joint master class project into an exhibition installation for the AESTHESIA; ‘THE UN OCULAR EFFECT’,symposium at SIU in Carbondale. SLEEPING AROUND: the urban pillow – napping in public space was the title of masterclass lead by Juergen Mayer and Natalie Fizer that caught up on the necessity of sleeping at any occasion due to the ever more demanding lifestyle and the lack of good night sleep. Can we design a transportable object that will provide us with the feeling of isolation from our immediate surroundings and help us take advantage of those moments between activities (while waiting, commuting,…) to relax and recharge? Proposed was a piece of accessory – a hybrid between a scarf and a hood, with embedded pads to block sound around ears and to block light in front of eyes. During its testing on the busy Barcelona subway it proved to be a stylish yet very useful and comfortable piece that indeed provided time of isolation and piece. SLEEP.ING BEAUTY Sleep.ing Beauty is an installation about the role of rest in today’s accelerated condition. We have arrived to the point when it is expected to be constantly awake, available and focused. This condition is not only related to work – state of awareness is demanded in all aspects of life, from social relations to family, from health to leisure. The everyday today is an overwhelming panoply of roles and activities, challenging limits of our capability to balance them. Today’s lifestyle does not allow any more to organize the day into few main parts – work, leisure and rest; tasks have become crumbled, scattered and overlapped throughout the whole day. It is a frenetic pace of living that conquers every moment of the everyday; even intervals between events need to be immediately fulfilled with some kind of distraction. Traditional 8 hours period of sleep tend to be neglected and is being shrunk in this roller coaster of activities. The result is fatigue and anxiety during the active part of the day when the body feels the need to reclaim the energies of the lost part of night sleep; it would welcome any available moment to relax just a bit. Rest, that used to be an activity specific to a certain place and time, is coming to be fragmented and distributed into different periods of the day. It is in this fragmentation and instantaneousness of the habits of sleep and rest that this installation focuses on. In this sense 24 identical units are placed at the disposal of the viewer to use them as pleased, allowing different positions and associations. One can seat, lay back, lie down or perform any other condition imaginable. This random shifting of units suggests manipulated rest habits during the hours of a day. However some of the units, carrying additional information, are fixed; they represent the essential and unquestionable necessity of sleep. As a consequence of this awareness, one of the units will be hanging in a clear association to the fact that sleep can now take place anywhere – it is a simulation of the portable isolative hood project. This soothing of the senses allows the experience of momentary mental escape from one’s immediate surrounding indicating instant rest. Sleep.ing Beauty reflects upon the critical condition of today’s unrested society and the urgency to enable moments of escape from the visual and sonic pollution of the contemporary urban environment.
location: BARCELONA / SIU, CARBONDALE, ILLINOIS
team: Maria C. Vera, Alexandra Areia, Manca Ahlin