Deep Sleep moves backwards and forwards in time between a notorious Sydney psychiatric institution of the 1970’s, where patients were subjected to “deep sleep” therapy, and the Chelmsford Royal Commission, established in the 1990’s to investigate the many deaths that occurred there. Deep sleep therapy involved inducing patients into a coma lasting between one to eight weeks. Many patients either died during the sleep or awoke from it with varying degrees of impairment, ranging from permanent amnesia to chronic panic. The work acts as the backdrop for a double layered love story, firstly involving Dr Bailey, the director of Chelmsford, and one of his patients, a Dancer, and paralleled by an affair between a Royal Commission investigator and Bailey’s former Secretary. The story is composed of a series of narrative recollections exploring the events leading up to the Dancer’s death, Bailey’s suicide, the findings of the Commission Investigator and the involuntary memories of the Secretary.

While based on actual events and extensive research, the work uses the events as a way of exploring the interplay between the world of psychiatry and the world of psychosis. Its narrative operates as a dream-like theatre of encounters between the four characters in a landscape where the hallucinations of psychiatry overlap with the logic of psychosis. Just as in the world of sleep, where conventional logic is replaced by a dream logic which blurs all spatial and temporal boundaries, so in this work characters and narratives blend into each other, bringing the normal boundaries between image and sound into question. This is achieved by the interchangeability of narrative elements. For example, at some points in the script the same scenes are played but with different voice-overs. Because of these interchangeable relationships, the recollections of Bailey, the Dancer, the Investigator and the Secretary become so intertwined that it becomes impossible to delineate one from the other, either the frailty of the Patient, the reason of the Psychiatrist, the calculated analysis of the Investigator or the memories of the Secretary.

Project DirectorDennis Del Favero

ARC Investigators: Dennis Del Favero, Neil Brown, Jeffrey Shaw, Peter Weibel

Programmer: Volker Kuchelmeister

Project Funding: Australian Council for the Arts, ARC DP0345547


Three Channel Video Installation. 8 minutes. BW. Stereo

Interactive Video Installation. 8 minutes. BW. Stereo

  • Remoteness, The Block & Parer Place Urban Screen, QUT, Brisbane, 2011
  • Once Upon a Time, Galerie Marion Scharmann, Cologne, 2010
  • Langue Froid – Cold Language / Cold Tongue, Conny Dietzschold Gallery, Sydney, 2009
  • Kava Kava, Kunstmuseum Mülheim, Mülheim, 2007
  • Crash, Lawrence Wilson Gallery, Perth, 2006
  • For Matthew and Others, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney, 2006
  • Fantasmi, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, 2005
  • Line of Flight, China Millennium Museum, Beijing, 2005
  • Out of the Body Encounters, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, 2005
  • Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, 2005
  • Preview Berlin, Berlin, 2005
  • Galerie Andreas Binder, Munich, 2004
  • Mori Gallery, Sydney, 2004
  • Implant Art, Bonn, 2004
  • Sprengel Museum, Hanover, 2004
  • Fantasmi, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, 2004

Director, Producer and Designer: Dennis Del Favero

Writer: Stephen Sewell

Composer: Kate Moore

Sound design: Tony MacGregor, Dennis Del Favero

DVD-ROM Designer and Programmer: Volker Kuchelmeister

Sound Engineer: John Jacobs

Stylist and Designer: Karla Urizar

Make-up: Coco Miles

Steady Cam Operator: David MacKenzie

Voice-overs: Kelly Butler, Ray Ryan, Danny Adcoc, Mary Regan

Produced by the iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research, UNSW

Co-produced in association with Radio Eye, ABC Radio National

Funded by:
Australia Council for the Arts
College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales.