The Sleep Lab, 2007

The Sleep Lab is a staged, fully functional sleeping laboratory. Built to resemble an expo stand, the installation invites viewers to closely monitor the sleep stages and sleeping rhythms of people sleeping in the lab. But this sleep laboratory offers an unusual feature: It shows the sleepers' dreams on a video screen!

The “dreams” are based on video diaries recorded by the sleepers themselves prior to the sleep sessions. In the installation a video mixing program is connected to a real time sleep stage detector. Using state of the arts sleep technology, the signals received from the sleeping person's brain directly affects the nature of the dream video.

The Sleep Lab 2006-07 from Minna Långström on Vimeo.

Technical Description

A person sleeps in the Sleep Lab, while a sleep analysis system outputs data about the sleeper.

The gallery has two video projections  on the wall. As the person is sleeping, one projection depicts the commercial analysis software used, with EEG-, or brain-waves covering the screen. The other projection shows a video, representing the ”dreams” of the sleeper. The video was shot be the sleeping person him/herself prior to sleeping in the lab.

The data from the analysis software is being used to determine how the video is seen. In very deep sleep, Sleep stage 4, the video is slow and completely abstract, corresponding to the low brain activity during deep sleep. During lighter forms of sleep, occasional recognizable images occur. During REM- sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), which is when we have long, undisturbed dreams, the video image appears clear and realistic.

Each night everything is being recorded onto a computer, and added to a sleep session archive on the computer.

During the week that the volunteers are sleeping in the gallery, the dream videos are being streamed  night time to  a local TV station. Every night, from 23.00– 07.00 local TV viewers will be able to watch people sleep, follow their brain activity, and see the "dreams" on TV.

At daytime, during the gallery open hours, gallery visitors can follow the sleep activity and ”dreams” of the person who slept there the night before.

After one week, the gallery will have an archive of 7 recorded sleep sessions to use for the remaining part of the exhibition.

Programming by Juha Vehviläinen

Special thanks to Jussi Virkkala at the Institute for Occupational Health Sleep Laboratory in Helsinki and Jussi Vuorela at Resmed.

The installation was made possible thanks to a grant from AVEK - Center for Audiovisual Culture

Photos of Sleep Lab