The Sociability Project


We received the exciting news that our project The Sociability of Sleep has been awarded a New Frontiers for Research Fund grant. This new research is an interdisciplinary research-creation project exploring the epistemologies and equities of sleep that runs from 2021–2023. I’m working with a fantastic team, starting with Alanna Thain at McGill. More about everyone involved here.


With the SoS project, we are interested in both the everyday and the exceptional experiences of sleep and its disturbances. In sleep, we all become radically vulnerable in a way that requires social forms of care: individuals are experts of their somatic experience, and yet access to the sleeping self relies on the perception of human and technological others. How might exploring a sleeper subjectivity—the quotidian ways we navigate time, space, ourselves, and others—help us rethink and reanimate the sociability of sleep itself? From the cyclical rhythms of productivity and rest to shiftwork to overwork; from racial and gendered inequities to cultural alterities; from the stigmatisation and performance of fatigue to the medicalization of sleep; from the ubiquity of sleep to its the privacy and invisibility; from individual experiences of sleep and dreams to the normativity of the sleep industrial complex—these are some of the manifestations of the social lives of sleep.

At the same time, we also aim to generate new knowledge and empathies for chronic sleep conditions/disabilities, those defined as generating a dis-ordered and out-of-step relation between sleep and wakefulness and as affecting long-term health and quality of life. These include, but are not limited to, somnambulism, insomnia, idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy, parasomnias, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, circadian rhythms disorders, etc. These diagnoses further challenge the ways we (can) document and know sleep.

As a team made up of film and media scholars, artists, and researchers in psychiatry, psychology, and medicine, we are exploring together how the tools, methods, and insights of arts, humanities, and social sciences can enrich knowledge, understanding, and normative treatment of sleep conditions, as well as the collective care of all sleepers. Our approach is rooted in interdisciplinary dialogue, art-science experimentation, curation, collaboration, prototyping, and various forms of “critical making” that integrate and engage with qualitative and quantitative research data. We aim for interventions into sleep in art, design, media, and performance to generate novel sleep situations that make perceptible, and thus actionable, our key intuition: that sleep is much more social than it might seem.

Over the two years of the project we will host a series of events, including the Sleep Salon speaker series, methodological and prototyping workshops, a graduate colloquium, artist residencies, a summer school, and a final exhibition in June-July 2023.

We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF).