“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are now controlling transmission… You are about to participate in a great adventure.”
This is part of a famous quote from the 1960’s sci-fi show, “The Outer Limits.” Every episode famously started with a narration that made people think their TVs were being controlled. Turning the dial to the 21st century and it’s TVs and pocket-sized televisions aka smart phones that are now controlling people.
WE REPEAT: PLEASE DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET. You’re about to participate in a great ART adventure. Below you’re seeing a mosaic tiled version of Sleep’s “famous” and iconic TV that is most notably found in the form of a sticker.
Sleep’s mosaic is located on a lamppost in Brooklyn at the corner of St. Nicholas and Jefferson St. in Bushwick, BK. Most TVs talk, but Sleep’s walks AND talks. Well, not literally, but every time we see the Sleep TV it is communicating and “transmitting” messages to us by plugging in and using the streets as an outlet. This TV is always on and can be found all over the country and the world. It’s the kind of TV you can’t and don’t want to turn off.
Please “stand”-by for an important announcement from a TV with rabbit ears and legs…
The Sleep project began in Seattle, WA in 2011, the place where he got hooked on street art. Sleep’s now in Austin, TX and has been there for about three years. He misses many things from the Northwest but is now happily soaking in the Texas sunshine. He’s a self-taught artist through lots of reading, YouTube tutorials and experimentation. He has also said that learning silk screening and having the tools to print out his own work was a turning point in his art career. More on that later.
The Sleep TV image first originated as frequent doodles on scraps of paper and junk mail envelopes around his Seattle apartment. He wasn’t necessarily trying to create a logo or an icon. “It was just an idea in my head that found its way out through my pen.” said, Sleep. There is a meaning behind the TV, but he likes that it can be interpreted in different ways. Around 2004-2005, Sleep’s TV was first publicly introduced on matchbooks. He used the matchbooks as a form of communication, and this was when smoking in bars was still legal. He’d draw on the matchbooks and leave them around for smokers to find. “In some ways it’s better than a sticker because it’s utilitarian too.“ said, Sleep. “People put the matchbooks in their pocket and take them home, share them, etc.”
There is a psychology behind what we decide to scribble down on paper, an envelope or matchbooks. It may or may not be true in this case, but people who tend to need security and are analytical and like to be in control tend to draw things with square shapes. The one thing that first-time doodlers draw is the 3D cube. TVs also in a square shape bring us comfort as well, they inform us (and sometimes misinform us!) they broadcast our favorite shows and movies and maybe some of us keep the TV on as we “Sleep.” Sleep’s TV is also the best kind of shape that works well with any other kind of image. He has collaborated with 100’s of artists and fans. Many are digital images, but a large number have made it to print and to the streets. The TV image is a natural fit for collaboration because the screen is perfect to drop any design into.
Photo by (@kristycnyc)
Silk-screening was always very intriguing to him even before he understood the process. He noticed a lot of artists were screen printing their own work. Sleep took some screen-printing classes and also invested in a used silk screen set-up. He said It was the most fun he’d ever had making art. He instructed some silk-screen classes in Austin at Something Cool studio early this year and all the classes sold out!
“Now, I had the tools to print short runs, design variations, different colors, varying sizes and mediums, and I didn’t have to wait on the slow turnaround times from the print shop I was using. That was definitely a huge turning point in my art-making career.” – Sleep
Sleep as part of the DC Street Sticker Expo 4.0, (December 2018), Washington, D.C. at the Fridge
Fun TV Facts: For you youngins out there, before YouTube, Netflix and iPhones, the only way to watch your favorite show was on a TV. Before cable, in NYC there were only 7 channels: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 AND there were no remotes, you had to actually get up, walk up to the TV, and change the channel manually! Blasphemy! Rabbit ear antennae (as featured in Sleep’s TV) were used to pick up the strongest VHF signal. TVs are sometimes referred to as the Telly, the Boobtube, and an Idiot Box.
Just like televisions and smart phones, Sleep’s TV and all street art and graffiti is in constant competition with ads for the viewer’s attention. How does Sleep feel about sharing the streets with so many advertisements? He’s not against all advertising, but he is opposed to a lot of it. He feels art helps us and sometimes forces us to re-examine our reality. Sleep said, “We need to realize that our reality is not static, nor predetermined.”
“The difference is ads are designed to create a feeling of dissatisfaction with your current situation and that’s not a great contribution to society!” said, Sleep. “That’s actually a great topic that I hope to explore more in my art.”
A huge collaboration that’s coming up is with VANS. Pretty soon, YOU can give these TVs legs and wear them on your feet! Sleep is collabing with Vans and he is so excited because he always rocked the checkered slip-ons as a kid, and incorporate a little bit of that element into his design. Stay tuned for more details from Vans or Sleep’s website and Instagram page to find out when you can get your own pair!
Photo by (@kristycnyc)
Sleep left us this one of a kind mosaic a few weeks ago when he was here catching Beyond the Streets before it closed on September 29. His favorites at BTS were HuskMitNavn, Barminski and he loved seeing the Shepard Fairey and Revok pieces as well.
“Shout out to Bushwick! That was my first time experimenting with mosaic and I loved it!”
He’s working on a larger one right now that will go up in Austin and he is hoping to get back to NYC at least once or twice a year. We’d love to see more of Sleep around the streets of New York and we’ll gladly take this special gift he’s left behind especially since it was his first time experimenting with mosaics. Sleep is looking forward to working with different mediums, exploring other conceptual projects and visiting Miami. He’s done the TV image with light painting and sparklers and would also like to experiment with neon. The Sleep TV can be found as far away as Australia, so the next obvious spot is up in space. If anyone knows any astronauts or Elon Musk, Sleep wants you to hit him up!
Light painting! photo courtesy of artist (@sleepisfamous)
“When I began the Sleep project my only goal was to interrupt your day with a weird, nonsense image that might spark a new thought or idea…just to redirect your thinking, if only in the tiniest way.” said, Sleep. “I never imagined that any of those people on the street would be able to give me any feedback.”
Sleep has admittedly stopped and started so many projects and this is the one thing that has lasted. The instant feedback of social media is a powerful motivator. The response he gets from his audience influences him and his work. So maybe in the case of this TV, it’s influenced just as much by the audience, as the audience is by the TV. We look towards the future to see where the Sleep project takes us next. I’m sure wherever that is, we will all be glued to our screens! Until then…
“We now return you to your regularly scheduled program…”