The clip above is a video art project made by an Irish art and design student I found online. Entitled “Waking”, the two and a half minute piece is based upon the sleeping disorder Aware Sleep Paralysis, or “waking dreams”. The description provided by the student delves deeper into their research proposal; “Aware Sleep Paralysis occurs when R.E.M overlaps with waking/falling asleep. R.E.M is the time during which dreams occur. Thus the body is paralysed in order to prevent one from acting out their dreams and causing harm to themselves. During a state of ASP the body is paralysed while the mind is conscious; mobility is confined to the eyes. The subject feels that they are awake but are lying paralysed in their bed and can see their surroundings with clarity. However, images and figures from dreams may be carried over into the waking period in the form of visual and auditory hallucinations. If one could manage to move some part of the body a message would be sent to the brain informing it that they are awake and thus the paralysis would be broken; there is a constant struggle to wake oneself. Among the sensations is difficulty breathing or a feeling of pressure on the chest. I wanted to capture the sense of terror one feels during this experience.”
Number and frequency of the cuts: Rather than using cuts to alternate between shots, the creator introduces the new footage first as an overlay which then slowly becomes the main footage. Toward the end of the piece, this technique is replaced with a split screen montage of the same piece of footage looping, creating an eerie and haunting atmosphere.
The duration between the cuts: Due to the subject matter reflecting an ongoing sense of terror, the footage is long and drawn out rather than quick and flashy.
Footage: As the student details in the description, “The camera remains static throughout the film, giving a sense of the subject’s state of paralysis”.
How is time and space established via the cuts: It isn’t, which is what adds to the surrealism and reinforces the “dream” element.
How does sound work with or against the cuts: The sound is uncomfortable and piercing as the cuts become more obvious.