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The significance of this project is to highlight the issue of sleep deprivation through physical form, of how much sleep and rest we have sacrificed to keep up with the hustling lifestyle and school work. Participants are students in NTU. We thought that this should be brought up since such unhealthy lifestyle is increasingly perceived as a norm and hence students have been neglecting sleep since they do not see it as of importance to their health.
According to The Straits Times, a SingHealth Polyclinics study reflects that “more than 40 per cent of Singaporeans do not get enough sleep on weekdays”.
- In the dark room, the whole venue will be generally filled with white balloons on the floor.
- A table stands in the centre of the room. Above the set-up, a lamp droops over.
- We place a clock on the table in giving a sense of time.
- An exercise book will be placed on the table which includes the aim of this installation and also descriptions of what the participant can do – to blow the balloons corresponding to the number of hours of sleep they have missed.
- In front of the table on the wall will be a projected screen which will show a video.
- It shows participants who have responded to this project, recalling the number of hours of sleep they have missed on a particular day, setting the standard that one ought to have at least 7 hours of sleep in order to have adequate rest.
- While watching the video, the audience may contribute to the installation by blowing up balloons according to the amount of sleep they have sacrificed. (Over a period of time or on the day itself)
- One balloon in the room represents one hour of sleep that one has sacrificed.
- Another projector will screen a counter which shows a counter of the total sleep that everyone has sacrificed collectively.
- The room will show an accumulation of sleep debt collected over a period of time.
We decided to work on the issue of Sleep Deprivation.
This idea came about when many of us were working very hard for our final submissions, often stretching work hours till late night. Dead beat, but we would still continue with work even having only about 4 hours of sleep each night. This is common in friends around us, that we lack rest as we burn midnight oil.
This topic, with its high relativity and creative potential, we found strong reasons to expand on it for our project.
Having discussed, we agreed that we wish to bring attention to the issue of sleep deprivation; a potentially dangerous health concern, and hopefully bring about change in such unhealthy lifestyles. We question, “Is is really worth it?” to allow participants to think again, about priorities with consideration of health.
The primary aim of this project is to explore possibilities of Time, Space and Body.
To deprive oneself of sleep, is to owe one’s body the time to rest. We relate such ties in physical form – balloons!
It is an appropriate representation as it it similar to us. We accumulate all of these ‘sleep debt’ and as we continue not getting enough sleep each day, the balloon increases in size, showing how much it all adds up. Eventually we would reach a capacity, and our body would be like the balloon, bursting at its limit.
We conceptualised a balloon representing a unit of sleep lost (1 hour in this case), and the room would contain a certain number of balloons. We estimated a high number, and this would allow the audience to experience a room packed with balloons, to feel overwhelmed by the truth and a commonality sleep deprivation has become.
Also to raise awareness, we planned to project a video at the set-up in delivering our message. It also documented few of our friends and their accumulated hours of ‘sleep debt’.
The overall mood we put up, is the dreamy feeling most of us feel in the morning when we did not get enough sleep the last night. We created a slight sense of familiarity for participants to be able to relate to.
In order to develop our idea, we researched on the topic to understand it better and definitely referenced art works similar to our concept.
Wen Lei had also recommended us a project called A Journal of Insomnia.
It is a surreal interactive documentary, where participants ‘invest their night’ and experience real-time what other insomniacs go through as they observe visually via an online network.
It is an amazing idea, and the inclusion of interaction has definitely helped in pushing awareness and enhancing art experience.
Work – in-progress
Making a screen out of what we have
So danielle and jiaman handmade this super laptop stand… putting 3D skills to good use
Setting up screens
Friends from other classes came in and found our installation giving them a sense of horror due to the red text, and also found the balloons too brightly lit and it distracts them from the notebook on the table as well as the video… ): so we changed those!
And the end result
Our biggest challenge would be interactivity. We had to constantly make changes and fine-tune as we prepare ourselves for the many different possible reactions of participants. There were so many concerns and worries – how could we make use of different tools and aspects to engage the audience, how do we direct them to behave in a certain way?
It is a must to do test-runs and invite other friends to provide us with feedback and their experiences so we could improve and better prepare ourselves, to overcome this difficulty.
As for logistics, we planned to have a dark room but it was difficult to find a room of suitable size, and with as little furniture there is in it. In the end, we found a room smaller than ideal, but it insulates light and sound pretty well, so we decided to make use of that anyway!
Entering the space, the accumulated amount of sleep lost could be experienced visually, physically by moving through the many balloons and also emotionally from the atmosphere we built.
Here’s how it went!
At the end of the class’ participation, there is a rise in number of hours of sleep lost collected from the previous number of 130.
The new number is
To watch the original video played at the set-up:
(PLEASE NOTE – The 1st and last minute of the video is only music.)
Reflections & thoughts
After showing the installation, it is even more evident that this issue is prevalent amongst us due to the reactions of participants.
As the last line in the video appeared saying “is it really worth it?” as to sacrificing sleep, many still said it is worth it. This shows the significance people place on other aspects of their life, mostly work, and do not prioritise sleep. but at the end, I do still hope that our work had created some awareness and encourage them to improve their well-being.
I think I have underestimated “installation art” and the difficulty in adding in “audience participation”. Through this project, I have gain more respect and appreciation for installation art and the people behind them.
There are many factors that can change during an installation performance and that has made me really worried and anxious. A lot of work is needed to understand people behaviour and how they will react to an installation. Will they participate? Will they understand the installation? Will they hate it? Their reactions varies and cannot be predicted. Unlike designing a Zine or poster, we are designing a space. How a person reacts to a space, what will capture their attention, to be aware of sound and light and lastly TIME. What we predicted and vision our installation is very different when we finally set it up.
We made many changes and regarding time. People’s reaction to TIME is the hardest part for me. Overall, this was an interesting project and I really enjoyed it.
Initially, we had many ideas and it was a hard time deciding on which to work on. Then we finally decided to expand on this topic which we could all agree that it is fun, impactful and something we would be proud to put it in our portfolio. Now after completion, I am glad to say I have immensely enjoyed this experience producing this delicate interactive installation.
Though our result has shown as that people are generally still willing to sacrifice their own sleep time for work or for other reasons, I hope this situation would improve. Ultimately, our health matters most not only for ourselves, but for those who care and love us.