Screencaps of the first internet sleepover from last year.

Internet Sleepovers are a Thing You Didn’t Know About

A huge Google Hangouts slumber party is slotted for Thursday night and everyone is invited (but no pillow fights).

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Jun 22 2016, 11:00am

Screencaps of the first internet sleepover from last year.

The only time we are not online is when we are sleeping—until now. The Internet Bedroom, a project launching Thursday as part of the Print Screen Festival in Holon, Israel, allows people from all over the world to log-in to fall asleep together on video chat. "This event is a sleepover over the internet," said the project co-founder Kensuke Sembo. "People join video chat and sleep. That's it."

The project co-founders, who are also known as the force behind the Exonemo art collective (their claim to fame is the Internet Yami-Ichi, an internet-themed black market), were inspired to do this upon the realization that the internet never sleeps. "When Japanese people start sleeping, New Yorkers wake up," said Sembo. "We started thinking that the internet needs sleep. We think it makes the internet a more natural place."

Kensuke Sembo and Yae Akaiwa. Image: The artists

Contrary to popular belief, it isn't an insult here when someone falls asleep online. "On the Internet Bedroom, the only thing the participants will do is sleep," said Sembo. "Some might snore or talk in their sleep, but that's it. It sounds very special because it's on the internet. But it's not special in real life. We think that challenge makes the internet a more relaxing place."

The first edition of the Internet Bedroom launched as part of an online exhibition with the New Museum in New York City last December, where it was rather unexpected. "We found that the experience of connecting sleeping people and watching it in real time was so beautiful," said co-founder Yae Akaiwa. "Of course, nothing special happened, but it was still special."

At this upcoming festival, there will be rooms where people can come in and camp out with their pillows and sleeping bags. However, anyone can sign into their Google Hangout video chat through the Internet Bedroom website (which will be announced the day of the event) and fall asleep with everyone online.

I could see the sunlight come into someone's room but other rooms were still dark. I could feel the globe

As their Facebook event explains, anyone can put on their pyjamas, bring their laptop or smartphone into their bedroom and login. Your camera has to be set towards you ("Please put on a dim light to be visible if possible," it says) and the final instructions are as follows: "Let's hangout in your dream..."

Last time, 90 people joined for the first 24 hours, but they can't predict how many will join this time. "The number doesn't matter," said Akaiwa. "The quality of sleep is the most important thing."

The best part was watching time change. "When people from some places woke up, people from other places started sleeping," she said. "There are always some people who sleep for 24 hours. I could see the sunlight come into someone's room but other rooms were still dark. I could feel the globe."

Weirdly enough, internet sleepovers have been going on for a while. One of the earliest ones (if not the first), was the Great Internet Sleepover, which happened at Eyebeam in New York City back in 2007—which was more of an all-night party and internet art market, rather than people sleeping together online. Ever since, internet sleepovers have been mentioned in book chapters and how-to videos; needless to say, it's popular with teens.

Sembo sees the act of sleeping together online as a way to bring new forms of communication. "The internet is evolved with its conscious side, not with its unconscious side, like sleeping," he said. "So this event should be special and it means something historical."

The duo will sleep as part of this project, too. "And we want to!" said Sembo. "For the previous event, I had a strange dream, I forgot details but it was weird."