Well before the blockbuster “Inception”, sleep has always fascinated humans. Even the ancient cultures tried to understand this phenomenon. If you believe some native tribes, it is possible to connect with supernatural beings like spirits of the ancestors or even look into the future while asleep. If you prefer scientific approach, sleep is nothing else but a sort of “defragmentation”, performed by our mind every single day. The information gathered during the day is processed, sorted out, and memorized under certain rules (long-term memory). It is certain that our consciousness is constrained in this state, but some things become clear after a good dose of sleep. The expression “to sleep on it” makes sense now, does’t it?. Also our perception seems to be working at a different, mystical “frequency” in a sleep. Have you ever dreamt of someone you haven’t heard from in a long time and just to receive a call from them the next morning? But what happens to people who are very close, to lovers, while they are sleeping? Is it possible to capture this connection and express it visually? Paul Schneggenburger, the Viennese photographer, was trying to find the answer to that question in his project “The sleep of the beloved”.
Trying to unlock the mystery of sleep is tricky business. The usual photographic methods won’t bring us any closer. In order to take the shots, Schneggenburger invited couples to his studio apartment where they spent the night. He installed a film camera in the bedroom, with a “timer” over the bed with black sheets. Each picture is a single negative exposed from midnight till 6 o’clock am. Each time candles were the only source of light.
Whether there is any magic in these shots, lies as it is usually the case in the eye of the beholder. There is no doubt though, that this is an interesting idea, involving an unusual approach, which led to beautiful and surreal results. It also shows the expressive potential of photography, of course if you are willing to think outside of the box. Thank you Paul for your inspirational images.