a note on process (2/28/22, 12am):

Several times during the pandemic I experienced the terrifying sensation of tumbling top-speed through space while falling asleep. I’d lurch from bed gasping for air. Some people experience these hypnagogic hallucinations regularly. Some feel plagued by this. I find these states as fascinating as they are uncomfortable. I think a lot about sleep. Sometimes I meditate before bed, sometimes sip amaro and dream of my dead. I keep a dream journal. It makes no sense, and I rarely refer to it. I sleep well, in general, except for when I don’t. I like to hear about other people’s sleep anxieties, and their dreams, especially shared or prophetic dreams. I remember waking up, decades ago, to one sister scrubbing the bathroom floor with a toothbrush, totally asleep. Another sister sleep-walked downstairs, muttering “I’m on a boat.” I dream regularly of boats. I occasionally use la smorfia, a Sicilian dream interpretation system, to choose lotto numbers. I’ve yet to win. I keep a palm always under my mattress, change it out annually. I keep a heavy flashlight as an easy weapon. I keep old photos near, and books, and sleep well, generally. I spritz rosewater on my pillow and sheets.

In thinking towards Temp Files season 2, I kept thinking of a portrait series I’d made several years ago. People sitting on their beds in their daytime clothes. I almost always went with one of the first shots I took of each subject – when the awkwardness was still in the air, before they settled into the experience of being photographed. I loved the rawness of that liminal emotional space between the comfort and intimacy of one’s bedroom environment and the strange coolness of the tripod.







I wanted those photos to narrate themselves. To detail the unconscious ritualized movements their subjects make when going to sleep and waking up, to tell stories of the objects chosen to be kept close during sleep, and to speak of recent dreams.

I also wanted a little excuse to visit people during the pandemic, to ask them intimate questions that didn’t have to do with masking habits or zoom fatigue.

Some people showed me their artwork, or shared their desires. Some people told family stories. Some shoots lasted 10 minutes, some lasted hours. Some of what came up was outside the scope of this video. Jake showed me a print he manifested after dreaming the image. Ekoko showed me her test canvases, after she showed me how she tests her sleep positions. Alina shared her need to sleep nearest the door. Monica shared finding a house in real life which she had previously dreamt. Sara Jane shared a dream of an ex-lover. At least four subjects mentioned their dead loved ones. I’m not alone in considering sleep as practice for death.

I asked everyone some version of:

  • Can you show me how you go to sleep and how you wake up, as faithful to daily ritual as possible?
  • What objects do you keep near you when you sleep?
  • Do you remember your dreams?
  • What anxieties do you have about falling asleep or waking up?

and then other questions followed, as they do.

There is amazing storytelling not only in the spoken text, but present in gestures, murmurs, glances. While the stories belong fully to each subject, there’s also, inherently, a relational dynamic. I am there, in the room, crouched behind a tripod and camera and KN95 mask. I am attending to these normally private rituals.

I had not intended to include any process notes. But I woke from sleep and climbed the stairs to type this out. I’ll climb the stairs again, go back to sleep, wake at 6:30, hit snooze and scratch the dog.


© temp files