Elisa Giardina Papa’s Labor of Sleep, Have you been able to change your habits?? consists of a series of short video clips—one for sunrise and one for sunset—that plays out over nine days, and humorously references self-improvement apps. The work examines the idea that sleep has become the newest frontier for gathering behavioral and biological data in order to optimize sleeping patterns, thereby turning the time that our bodies use to rest and replenish into a form of labor devoted to data extraction. In this way, digital devices function as both a poison and its remedy, providing relief for the time they take away. The daily exercises and assessments suggested by Labor of Sleep, Have you been able to change your habits?? rely on a range of motifs that reveal the absurdities of technologically supported self-optimization. The video clips illustrate how we use technologies to regulate human sleeping habits within the rhythms of a wider system—one that includes humans and non-humans, extending from organic matter to digital devices themselves.
Labor of Sleep, Have you been able to change your habits?? is part of Sunrise/Sunset, a series of Internet art projects commissioned by the Whitney specifically for whitney.org to mark sunset and sunrise in New York City every day.