While you were sleeping

From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

While you were sleeping is a short film made from stock footage and stock sound available online, with an original voice over narrating the film. The film is divided into three acts, each exploring the disconnect between the narrators’ dreams and their reality. The film’s footage is a hallucination of archetypal dreams using modern landscapes and contemporary experiences that overwhelm the narrator. Throughout the film, the sound of fire and fireworks emerges in different forms: as part of city sounds or as violence. The title of each act references dream-like and hallucinatory states drawn from literary works.

Several online sites make stock footage available (for free as well as paid), aimed particularly at businesses and commercial filmmakers seeking to make promotional videos for a business or service. After spending time looking through this material, it struck me that many of these videos can be thought of as ‘archetypal’ footage; universally understood images that appeal to popular consumption. Their content and emotion is obvious, heightened by clear signifiers, standard framing and compositions. There is a clear motivation for the makers of these videos to create clips that speak quickly to the viewer in order to increase the likelihood that they will be downloaded. In search of a ‘common denominator’ visual language, these clips exemplify what is recognized and established within popular visual iconography. These clips suggest to me the possibility of arriving at an understanding of our culture (at least its visual iconography) by simply going through stock footage sites. The constantly repeating motifs, subjects and style reveal our cultural obsessions and shared visual language.

While you were sleeping is an experiment to tell stories that can be immediately understood, despite the combination of images from different locations, times and contexts, and ambiguous narrators. Framed through Carl Jung’s concept of archetypal dreams, they draw out the popular myth of humanity, falling away from a Golden Age toward the inevitable Apocalypse.