Jeff Wall: Insomnia

I enjoyed reading Sharon’s interpretation of this image at

She says “The cold colours of the cupboards and the starkness of the scene, the harsh lighting and the hotspots, give a kind of eerie feel. It connotes a place of discomfort; of coldness and unease which we can sense even though we cannot actually be in that kitchen. This information has been delivered to us via a series of signs and signifiers carefully selected and utilised by the photographer.”

This is a great description of the eerieness of the scene, but for me there are other aspects that make it appear uncomfortable and edgy, for example

  • the vertical and horizontal surfaces are not truly vertical/horizontal, this gives an unsettling feel
  • the position of the man under the table, he cannot have fallen there, why is he in such a position?
  • the positioning of the tables and chairs leading the eye of the viewer into the picture, the chairs turn theit back on the viewer
  • the claustrophobic feel to the scene due to the positioning of tables and chairs

The unnatural sense of the image and composition to me relates to the unnatural feelings aroused by severe insomnia.