Copyright 2021

Curatorial Concept

This section includes text describing the project taken from a report authored after the exhibition as part of documentation of the collaboration between Sarah Cook and Somerset House and is reproduced here with permission.

The exhibition Sleep Mode had been designed to give six of the exhibiting artists from 24/7 the chance to take their digital artworks a step further, under Glasgow International's theme of 'Attention'. Instead, due to circumstance, it was reconfirgured to build upon strong collaborations with both the artists and Somerset House’s digital engagement team, at a time when venues were shut to the public and Somerset House was developing innovative online offerings.

Sleep Mode was realised as a week-long exhibition and a 'takeover' of Somerset House's online programme, with a new element released each day – a ‘long read’ on the Monday, a new artist’s performance/commission on the Tuesday, a longer artist’s video, film or audio piece on the Wednesday (titled ‘Pause’), a hybrid/streamed broadcast event on the Friday, and an educational/outreach workshop or panel discussion on the weekend.

Somerset House described the project as: "a week-long reflection on the theme of 'always-on' culture and the 'new normal' we can create in a post-lockdown world. Picking up where our recent 24/7 exhibition left off, and also curated by Sarah Cook, Sleep Mode features new and existing works, interrogating the idea of living in ‘sleep mode’ – a life where you never fully switch off."

Artist Alan Warburton created an animated ‘Country Diary’ about rendering digital landscapes on screen while being unable to travel to the country from his London studio. Artist Nastja Sade Ronkko read letters she had received since completing her durational performance/residency at Somerset House in 2019, during which she spent six months completely offline, working in her studio on-site and getting her news from printed newspapers, navigating London with a paper map, and corresponding only by written letter. Artist Michael Mandiberg launched their series of live Zoom backdrop paintings, done during seemingly endless Zoom meetings. Artist Garnet Hertz reflected on how to make art in between childcare responsibilities and his daily allowance of exercise (skateboarding). Artist Addie Wagenknecht discussed her technological activism and the importance of engaging online in the context of Black Lives Matter. Taken together, alongside Douglas Coupland’s ‘Slogans for the 21st Century’ which spoke poignantly to our current malaise (“I WANT MY TIME BACK”), these works and the ‘Sleep Mode’ project stand as a testament and document of this very strange year in which we both spent more time looking at screens, and also more time being aware of the cycle of day and night, than many of us have done before.