My subconscious is not very considerate. I’ve been told that I kick things, steal the covers and hog most of the space on my good days. Sometimes I wake up with my feet on the pillows and my head at the foot of the bed, but with no recollection of shifting positions during the night. Small moments like these lead us to ask questions about sleeping patterns and movements, but we have no way of observing them without having someone watch us sleep the whole night. Photographer Paul Schneggenburger’s series of long exposure photos of sleeping lovers entitled The Sleep of the Beloved shows a more intimate perspective, but stems from the same basic questions about people sleeping.
“I’m fascinated by sleep,” he said. “What’s going on in the body; what’s going on in the mind?”
It’s definitely an interesting concept, albeit a little creepy. The fact that Schneggenburger wasn’t in the room while these photos were being taken makes it slightly less creepy. With a simple setup that included a mattress, a black sheet, Christmas lights, a camera trigger and his second bedroom, he began his project.
Each long exposure shows the couple’s movements over the course of 6 hours starting from midnight until 6AM. It’s interesting to see who gravitates toward whom and whether or not they spend the most time facing towards or away from each other.
I understand the curiosity which drives a person to find out how people behave. Maybe that’s why so many photographers gravitate towards street photography nowadays. We like to people-watch and document what we’ve seen so that we can study it again later. We go looking for emotions and body language that tell a story because sometimes it’s more interesting that way; it’s a guessing game.
“Is it a nocturnal lovers’ dance – which is not necessarily sensual, but rather a kind of unconscious act of tenderness – or are they turning their backs on each other?” Scheggenburger asks.
If you’re interested in having him photograph you and your significant other, he is still open to continuing this series of images provided you pay for the print. The Sleep of the Beloved will be on display at the Anzenberger Gallery in Vienna from February 4, 2013 at 7 pm until March 8, 2013.