A World Inspired by Insomnia



Dutch photographer and past Life Framer exhibitor Anne Paternotte shares some insight into her photographic practice and what inspires her.

In my work I visualize my own reality and take my audience into a world inspired by my insomnia. Everyone is in a way familiar with the feeling and effects of sleep deprivation and daydreaming, I think that’s the reason my images appeal to others. They can identify in some way with my feelings and therefore in my images. In my photography I try to show the perception of the weary eye in a poetic form. Not all my projects are about my insomnia but it always influences my photography and way of looking at the world.

There is a lot of architecture in my photography. The working of the lines fascinates me. The repetition of patterns almost have a psychedelic effect and that is what I find very interesting, it reflects the sense of lack of sleep for me.

From the series ‘Streets of Insomnia’

There is a park near my house, during the evening and night it is completely deserted there. This is a place where I like to walk when I can’t sleep. Deserted streets, dark buildings and the empty playgrounds are sparsely illuminated by streetlights. It attracts me. The place is weird, beautiful but also ugly in a way. I started my project ‘Streets of Insomnia’ there when I was studying photography at AKV St. Joost in Breda.

The special thing about that place is that when I would walk there, everyone sleeps except for me. And then the next morning I had to go through that same park to get to my academy and at that point it started to get light and people would be out walking their dogs. It is such a surreal experience to have to see the exact same place in two whole different ways. The contrast between those experiences is what I find most intriguing.
The photos that you see in the series are not all created during these walks, it’s more a reference to the walks than the actual walks themselves. In that state, I am not really able to photograph fully conscious so I go back to the place and try to find the same feeling. In order to do this I have to shut myself from my surroundings. I do this with music, for example, I listen to Radiohead or Chopin to make sure that I don’t feel my surroundings and really experience this other reality.
















From the series ‘Streets of Insomnia’

I love the work of Nobuhiro Nakanishi, a Japanese artist who uses layered drawings to create a new experience. A movement between the artwork itself and the viewer’s experience of the artwork.

Artistic duo Synchrodogs are a great inspiration to me, in image and also in the subjects of their projects. In Reverie Sleep, for example, they imagine the space between wake and dream. The hallucinations that occur during the stage of Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep. They would wake themselves up in the middle of the night to make a notes of their dreams. Afterwards they would use these notes to stage their dreams. It results in beautiful eerie, surreal and dreamy images.

Left image ‘Reverie Sleep’ by Synchrodogs, right image ‘Layered Drawings’ by Nobuhiro Nakanishi

After being inspired by the staged photography of Synchrodogs I started a follow up series on Streets of Insomnia called Perception of the Weary Eye in which I interviewed other people with a form of a sleeping disorder. Inspired by their stories I would photograph them in my visualization of their experiences.

As a photographer/artist I think that we are always looking to translate a certain type of feeling into image. It is really beautiful that when you can’t find the words to describe something, you can try to show it. With the Layered Drawings Nakanishi uses his art to take the audience into this experience. I find this beautiful.

From the series ‘Perception of the Weary Eye’

All images © Anne Paternotte except where noted

See more of Anne’s work here: