info @ mariosantamaria.net
For many years I had a sleep disorder, going to bed after dawn and spending the middle of the day sleeping. Even as a child, I remember that from time to time I would go to school without sleeping, preferring to stay awake all night alone in my room. Over the years, this has led to a lot of professional problems, and I have had to look for excuses to justify my unavailability.
So, as an experiment, I decided to use autoreply to manage my emails, my anxiety about responding, and my guilt about not responding or responding too late. The business logic of these technologies has merged our lives and our professions, but for artists the practice of art has always been inseparable from the life of the artist. Why not play with that? I had already done other experiments that conflicted with machine temporalities. I had programmed my website hosting service to be available only 23 hours a day, without specifying at what hour or during what minutes the website would block all the IPs trying to communicate with the server. I like the idea of a temporality that includes failure and setback. In opposition to the idea of 24/7, I set out to create a 23/7 time that is just as rational but that contains its own contradiction.
It’s not something I’m aware of. I don't receive a copy of the email. It’s just sent out automatically. Sometimes I think about it when I’m writing to people who aren’t part of the art world, and I speculate about their reactions. Many people, when they receive my “sleeping” email for the first time, write back thinking there was a mistake. Others write to me just to say that they laughed when they read it and that they would also like to be sleeping, but they can't, they have to work. When some people who haven't written to me in a long time receive the message, they tell me that they missed it, as if it were already a gesture of their personality that refers to a personal treatment, like a tic or those little phrases we use when we speak. I do understand my autoreply as an example to be followed, but as an absurd distortion of the temporality of communication, which makes other options possible. I have also felt bad because I have the privilege to say that I am sleeping, even though often I am not. But sooner or later I do have to respond. It’s something that many people simply don't dare to say or can't. I am not aware of how this affects me. I justify it as part of my artistic practice, and I am aware that some people don't like it.
In the last year the project has appeared in some exhibitions, and I have received many emails from people I don't know writing to me to wish me “good night” or “sweet dreams.” I had never thought about this shift in the project. I find it wonderful to receive emails of this kind. Sometimes I respond with a selfie from bed and a “thank you” to prove that I was indeed still in bed and that a stranger can send me an inspirational message without it having to be a work proposal.