A Network of Beds

The bed has become a place of work, a site of action. In this podcast made by the Serpentine Gallery, Beatriz Colomina restages the John and Yoko’s Bed-In inside the Serpentine Pavilion and invites artists and writers into her bed to have a conversation.

Colomina has been investigating the bed as a place of thought and labour ever since she read an article in the Wall Street Journal that stated that 80 percent of the young professionals in New York works from bed. The office has moved into the bed, or rather, is channelled into the bed through digital networks. As we lay in our bed, we are connected to millions of other bedrooms, forming a horizontal network of domestic labour[1].

Hugh Hefners’ bed serves as a model for the bed as a workplace, it was outfitted with telephones, video cameras, microphones, dictaphones, television, and a fridge, making it possible for Hefner to work exclusively from his bed[2]. While this arrangement seems to us comic with its archaic technology, it is an allegory for the way we work today, since all these devices have been miniaturised and embedded in the sleek bodies of our laptops and smartphones. As we lay in our bed, we are connected to millions of other bedrooms, forming a horizontal network of productivity.

As the public sphere of work enters into the privacy of the bed, the bed(room) enters the public sphere. From room 902 in the Amsterdam Hilton International Hotel, Yoko Ono and John Lennon broadcasted their honeymoon for a week, to produce “a commercial for peace.”[3] Ono and Lennon knew in advance that their honeymoon would be publicized by the press, so instead of trying to protect their privacy, they invited the reporters into the bedroom. The bedroom itself had been staged by John and Yoko as a set by removing every piece of furniture except for the bed, to make room for cameras, microphones and recorders that broadcast their intimate protest. When Yoko and John were being interviewed about their performance, John stated that “there is no line between private and public.” Space no longer served as a signifier between public in private, there was no line, only a schedule that allowed the press to enter the room from 9am to 9pm.

Georges Perec considers the bed to be an “elementary space of the body”[4], a space that is highly individual. It is perhaps the most intimate and private physical space which we inhabit. At the same time, it is opened up to networks of work, consumption, information and production, we move while we are resting. Thinking about the connected bed becomes thinking about how our bodies are coupled, meshed and woven together with technical devices.

[1]Beatriz Colomina, The Century of the Bed, accessed 26 November 2018: https://issuu.com/departure/docs/cb14_century-of-the-bed_lowres.

[2]Beatriz Colomina, “The 24/7 Bed,” Work, Body, Leisure, accessed 26 November 2018: https://work-body-leisure.hetnieuweinstituut.nl/247-bed.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Georges Perec and John Sturrock, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, Penguin Classics (London: Penguin Books, 2008).p16.

Featured photo: Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Bed-In.1969. Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal. Photo: Gerry Deiter. © Joan Athey

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