Drift was a body of research that I undertook in Belgium, from 2004-2005, aiming to develop an understanding of the notions of time, sleep, dreams and the imagination, through the preverbal personal space of ‘transitory strata’. I began by instigating a collaboration with Dr Myriam Kerkoffs, Director of Sleep Research, and scientists at the Sleep Laboratory in Charleroi University Hospital (CHU), Belgium. During this time I was the first Artist-in-Residence within the hospital department.
The residency gave me the opportunity to undertake ‘sleep’ experiments in the laboratory, and film the process of my staged ‘performances’. I attempted to analyse the unconscious via a range of recording techniques to visualise a re-interpretation of sleep through experiential time. In the visual arts, and in relation to themes about sleep and the imagination, the search is often for an artistic vocabulary for what happens in dreams.
Drift recounts one performance where a researcher is seen ‘hooking’ me up to the electrons, which were used to connect brain waves to electrical equipment in order to register my sleep patterns. The resulting artwork was shown installed with the technical equipment suspended over a hospital bed, and the film projected onto the pillow. The installation was made available for staff to view. In exploration of the experiential account of time and to render the representation of the work, Drift was shown at the hospital as a solo exposition of site-specific work following the residency.
The sleep performances and access to anonymous sleepers’ records also resulted in responses to the physical environment of CHU Versale’s sleep laboratory and to its scientific procedures. In the ‘dream film’ I created environments where the artworks were intentionally framed to display and narrate the unconscious recordings and measurements of time and the gap between wake and sleep. These gaps and reveries are experienced whilst daydreaming and dreams are experienced during sleep and also sometimes remembered upon waking. These states can alternate and intermingle.
Professor Paul Haywood from the University of Salford on reviewing the research wrote:
'The study explores cultural resonances of time and their physical manifestation through human experience via the broad medium of art. It is an empiric study as concerned with the process of transfer and audience encounter as it is with the motivating substance and theme of research. The study specifically renders a representation of time as experience and provides evidence that the expression of time via human experience is a substantive cultural language.'
Professor Paul Haywood (2004).