It started at 22.00 in Bains::Connective, the old swimming pool of Vorst/Forest in Brussels. For the event 15 people spent the night together in this building.
The guests were received in the income hall and when most of the sleepers were present and after a short welcoming introduction everybody was on stage. The intention was to make no distinction between public and performer and to explicitely make no performative acts for this first experiment.
When the 15 sleepers age between 15-38 arrived they received a white paper bag with items to encourage a good night sleep: a dreampillow filled with herbs for intense and good dreams; two sea shells in a little plastic bag to listen to ones own breath and body sounds; a sponge to wash and a sheet for the sleeping bag.
The upper part of the swimming pool 9m x 12m was the stage for this happening. A cone-shaped tent 6m x 7m made with ropes and white translucent tissue was constructed on one side of the space and was illuminated by lights from the ceiling. Inside, soft layers of blankets, camping mattresses and 15 sleeping bags were placed in a circle. In the middle of the tent, on the floor, a burning campfire was projected all night long.
The inside of the tent was filmed by a small nightwatch camera and this recording was projected on a screen outside the tent. Also a stereo sound recording was made of the whole night.
In a corner outside a computer was set up for filling out the online survey about personal sleeping habits.
There was a reading corner with books about sleeping and dreaming, bedtime stories and other articles about the themes of „Inner lives of a sleeper“. Tea, wine and snacks were available for a nightcap.
We sat together and discussed different behaviours and personal experiences concerning going to bed, sleeping and getting up, as well as talk about what being awake, dreaming and reality might mean.
How does it feel to sleep in a space which you normally only enter in a waking state? What do you need to feel comfortable to fall asleep?
How is it to spend a night and share your dream state with people you dont or hardly know?
In the meantime some people filled out the survey, explored the space or read books while others just relaxed.
We took a headshot of each person before going to bed and again in the morning right after waking up.
An improvised soundscape, partly based on recordings from earlier experiments, was played through a computer, which faded gradually as more people went to sleep.
In the middle of the night a Spanish latecomer rung the bell and joined the group of sleepers.
In the morning some people had to leave earlier than others to go to work, so breakfast was served from 7.30 on in the bar of Bains.
Most of the people slept well, and some even had particular dreams or experiences. Over breakfast many interesting issues came up about the further process and development of this project.
Thanks to the feedback from the participants and the people of Bains::Connective, this first night gave clear directions for the next experiments in May.
To be continued!
29 04 2004