“Loved the touch of setting an appointment in the middle of the night. Ingenious.” —Dustin Callif
“I hope we continue to see more experiences that inspire empathy for and understanding of the different perspectives of those around us.” —Sean Klassen
Overview: A Journal of Insomnia is a web-based, collaborative exploration of what keeps us—along with a third of the developed world—up at night. The National Film Board of Canada took a unique approach to tackling the issue of insomnia: a journal in which insomniacs from around the world share their experiences. Woven together from the stories, artwork and webcam testimonies of thousands of insomniacs around the world, the Journal provides interesting new perspectives on contemporary existence and the anxiety that so often underscores our days… and our nights.
• The site took three years to produce.
• Content is made up of more than 1,000 journal entries from around the world.
• Flash technology creates an immersive experience that lets users see insomnia from within, from the point of view of an insomniac.
Comments by Guillaume Braun, Thibaut Duverneix, Bruno Choinière and Philippe Lambert:
How has the project been promoted? “A Journal of Insomnia was launched in April 2013 as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Storyscapes program, along with an installation component. It was also presented at the Sheffield Doc/Festival last June, and in Montréal it won an award at the Festival du nouveau cinéma for the most innovative work for new platforms (the Prix Innovation FNC Lab). It was also presented at DOK Leipzig and at the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival.”
What do you think are the site’s core features? “The site asks users to make appointments to come back, in the wee hours, to watch insomnia in action. By surrendering part of their night in order to take part in the Journal, visitors are plunged into an actual experience of insomnia. There are also the confessions of insomniacs, which became the rich, raw content for the design. The artistic direction—the overall aesthetic, tone and sound design—creates a total immersion in the world of insomnia.”
What was the thinking behind the navigation structure? “The web never sleeps. The web is insomnia. We use the full potential of online media to explore the issue by exposing visitors to the world’s collective sleeplessness. Only the web could serve as the stage for this kind of experiment. The Journal pushes the limits of documentary, offering an intimate look at a distressing condition that is usually experienced alone. Sound design, art direction, narration and the rich content contributed by users create a touching experience that prompts reflection on the nature of contemporary society.”