2:22AM captures the all-consuming inertia of insomnia

Having mild insomnia used to arrest my body of energy but send my mind into an overactive thought process. It was the unfortunate consequence of working behind a bar, sometimes until as late as 5am, and also working at a restaurant that would often have me starting a 10-hour shift at 8am. In those witchy hours between shifts I couldn’t sleep.

I’d slump gormless on the couch in front of the television and watch as infomercials for useless kitchen products, amateur rubber mask horror, and topless women urging watchers to call a premium-rate telephone number all coalesced. It’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to pure psychic automatism.

achieving a dream-like state where only pure detached thought exists. 

2:22AM is that kind of late-night television experience. It’s all vignettes: real footage, tiny evocative sentences, and ominous interactive shorts. The authentic scan lines of an old CRT display and crackle of television noise weaves them altogether; connected by a single session of channel hopping.

The breadth of activities really captures the absurd bricolage of late night program scheduling. You jump from the words “new moon”, to watching cars driving down a highway at night, to catching an endless stream of falling balls in a cup, and then climbing up an endless ladder. Each peculiar broadcast communicates in the concise language of poetry—a powerful mimesis.

The potency of each image and sound turns even the most mundane extracts into a bad dream: finding a full moon in a fridge; close-ups of a boiling kettle; chopping up a vegetable as your hand moves steadily closer to the knife. 

More than anything, the breadth of the fleeting transmissions portrays a belief in the superiority of a disinterested play of thought. Interactive control, as in a videogame, isn’t prioritized over the kind of observations that documentary footage or a singular expressive verse offers. The only thing that matters is achieving a dream-like state where only pure detached thought exists.

My favourite vignette consists of a narrow corridor with a half-open second storey window at one end. Looking out from the window reveals a small snowy scene consisting of a single tree and a metal object I can’t quite make out (perhaps a kid’s plaything?) below. My gaze feels mournful, like I’ve been shut inside away from the cold by my over-protective parents. I just want to feel the gentle snowflakes on my face.

This powerful psychic association, an exercise in pure dictation of thought, is what 2:22AM is superb at evoking.

You can download 2:22AM for free on itch.io.