TV, Drugs and Home Video — Stilnox Home Video

Su, Hui-Yu
Stilnox Home Video: The Midnight Hours | 21mins | 2010 (still of the video)

Stilnox Home Video: The Midnight Hours | 21mins | 2010 (still of the video)

According to a survey conducted by the Department of Health Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs, as of 2009, Taiwan has over 3,000,000 sleeping pill users.

This seems to be an astonishing number but is actually a commonplace phenomenon. Many friends of mine have taken such medication. Insomnia has become a trendy epidemic. I used to take soporific drugs to help me sleep, but the emphasis is on the moments before sleeping rather than sleep itself.

The story was an unexpected incident. One night I took Stilnox as usual before going to bed. Having taken Stilnox for a couple of years, I rely on the drug to fall asleep whenever I need to wake up early or have crucial events the next day. That particular night, however, I didn’t go to my bedroom after taking the pill. Instead I sat staring at the TV in the living room probably because the TV show was really interesting. As the drug took effect, I was not lying in bed. Unknowingly, I entered a “world of non-sleeping”—I was neither asleep nor awake. The TV show dazzled me. I lit a cigarette, gazing at the smoke and the TV screen. Then I found my living room started to shrink, and I felt a sense of speed in the space. I stood up and walked towards the enlarged smoke, feeling the wonderful effects, while various characters and plots in TV shows appeared before my eyes like a psychedelic reality show.

Misusing the drug allowed me to encounter the unique experience based on which I developed works to illustrate the unusual combination of drugs and TV. They include two series of works: “A Day of Horror” and “Stilnox Home Video: The Midnight Hours”. I think they have several features. First, they were inspired by the experience of drug usage that is also the basis for the works. Second, they were produced in my house, the space of my daily life, so they are closely connected to my life. Finally, they are respectively about the state of Stilnox kicking in and after the effects fade. “Stilnox Home Video: The Midnight Hours” is about reflecting on the state of “Stilnox kicking in” ,while “A Horror Day” is about rebuilding the connection between image and life “after the effects of Stilnox have faded.” In brief, they are my home videos2.

As always, I enjoy finding inspiration in watching TV. Nevertheless, drugs were unexpectedly involved in the process in a certain period of my life. It appears as if the era of conventional television is over. When in fact, in the light of visual communication, the so-called television will not disappear. What is changing is the speed and means of visual communication; be it digital television, interactive television or even YouTube, movies channels, sports channels, MTV or adult channels, the moving image will not leave us. On the contrary, it is embedded in our life in more ways. Under the effects of Stilnox, the moving image worked its charm on me in an obscure and fascinating way.