HD video with stereo sound
3 mins 10 secs
Exploring the materiality and imagery of a collection of amateur 35mm slide photographs of sleeping people that Chodzko assembled (“to create their community”), Sleepers imagines the restless movement of a mind as it flickers between perceptions, slipping towards unconsciousness, resisting, or urgently trying to find the path to, sleep.
Seeing someone sleep always provokes a level of uncertainty; perhaps this is more than sleep? Could they be dead?
Seeing a still image always provokes a level of uncertainty; I think I see movement?
Since 2007 Chodzko has been collecting individual 35mm photographic slide images ( ‘still’ images), taken by amateurs, of people sleeping, to have currently amassed over 100 of these images, shot all around the world, from 1950’s to late 1980’s, from babies to the elderly. People sleeping on buses, aeroplanes, beds, boats, sofas, on blankets in the open air, during military conflict (the Vietnam war) and out, in public, homeless, on the streets. Accumulatively, by bringing these images together it suggests a kind of collective narcolepsy, a pandemic unconsciousness, a mass sleep or mass dreaming from a fairy tale, or, is this something deeper than sleep, are these images perhaps collective evidence of death, the end of everything? Chodzko is interested in the relationship between the material flatness of the 35mm film, that was there in a camera, in a room, at the time; a presence in relation to another presence, that of a sleeping person.
Chodzko relates this attempt to empathise with a sleeping person to an attempt to empathise with the invisible photographic documenter of their subject and then extends this process of embodiments through the choices made in the authoring of their post production.
The sleepers’ ‘withdrawal’ into another world, of dreams, also activates and destabilises our ability to empathise. The stillness and silence of a sleeping person, and a still photograph, creates a vacuum for the viewer, provoking a consciousness of sound. Sound here fragments outwards from the image and is drawn towards it, trying to connect with it, to “bring it to life” but never fully adhering to the image. The sound is designed to appear to catalyse the motion of seeing, evolving from the image, from our automatic auditory associations with objects and places. The sounds are positioned all around the sleeper but never from the sleeper where there is an acoustic vacuum.
Holes pierce the thin flat membrane of 35mm film, pouring in light (an apparently perpetual light of constant day) – time to wake up? – allowing a journey through one image and into another.
Chodzko’s fascination with the subject of sleep partly stems from a series of sleep disorders experienced throughout his childhood, from insomnia to frequent sleep paralysis, night terrors, false awakenings and hallucinations.
A related work to Sleepers is Sleepers. Hole, 2013
An earlier related work to Sleepers comes from a work Chodzko made in 1992 called Moon Stealing where he would take a Hi-8 camera to the cinema and whenever the moon appeared in the background of exterior night shots in a feature film (it often does) he would zoom into it to then (through an edit) zoom out of it to enter into the night of another film.
Commissioned for Channel 4 Random Acts series, through the Jarman Award via FLAMIN, http://randomacts.channel4.com/
Sleepers. Compressed version on Vimeo