A New Way to Fall Asleep™

America's Leader in Sleep Diagnosis & Aid

A New Way to Fall Asleep™ is an imaginary franchise I conceived of as a means of playing with alternative histories and belief systems within my artmaking process, addressing the history of print media in commercial production, and processing my own personal experience with insomnia. A New Way to Fall Asleep™ (“America’s Leader in Sleep Diagnosis and Aid”), is the revolutionary new company whose line of “clinically proven” alternative medicine will provide the ultimate cure for insomnia you’ve been waiting for. Its main product is the A New Way to Fall Asleep™ Self-Help Kit, a black box which takes the form of both a screenprinted art object and a commercial product in its own right. The text and imagery on each item within this kit was screenprinted, along with its outer box. These items include a sleep mask "infused with nectar from the osage orange" (a natural muscle relaxant and sleep-aid, according to NWFA), a bottle of sleeping pills whose formula also relies on the natural healing processes of the osage, and a user’s manual meant to help each patient get the most out of their new purchase. This small booklet presents itself as a functioning manual at first, but quickly dissolves into absurd humor and poetry mixed into pre-existing commercial and informational formats, such as charts and diagrams. Each Self-Help Kit also contains a serial number that its owner can use to create an online account on NWFA’s official webpage, which I coded in Dreamweaver. These numbers, along with all the information viewers are asked to input while creating their online profile, are arbitrary, but the interactive forms I coded into the site make them seem legitimate. However, similarly to the Self-Help Kit user’s manual, the website soon dissolves into busy pages of fidgeting, animated prints and collages, along with interactive forms filled with poetry instead of profile-building questions. These visual and textual delineations are meant to emphasize the lack of reliable medical information that we see in advertisements, news articles, and commercial products on a daily basis. The eerie, antiquated illustration-style I use throughout the kit is meant to feel both historical and dreamlike. The cover of the user’s manual, for example, is composed of digitally collaged, bitmapped imagery I reappropriated from 18th-19th century etchings and engravings.

For my final Senior Studio Thesis show as an undergraduate at Oberlin College, I put together an installation that masked itself as the official headquarters of A New Way to Fall Asleep™. It functioned both as an immersive, interactive space — designed like something between a corporate office and a doctor's waiting room — and a retrospective of the work I'd created that year. This installation first opened to the public as part of a group show at Baron Gallery in Oberlin, Ohio that ran from March 30 to April 4, 2018. I then installed NWFA as a solo exhibition in Oberlin's Storage Gallery on May 4, 2018.

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The following images are scans of the patient sign-in forms left on the main desk during the installation's opening on March 30:

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The following audio track was played every 5 minutes during the installation :

Installation Audio - Lya Finston
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