Explosive art that responds to the modern struggle to switch off from our non-stop world

Image courtesy of Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21stCentury, and Maria Francesca Moccia / EyeEm, via Getty Images

You spend at least five hours on your smartphone every day. You know it's unhealthy but you can't help but check your many apps, emails and networks, and you keep doing so on a loop. If you work for yourself, it's even worse.

This inability to switch off has become one of the most important issues of our time. Since 2010 we've added a full week to our working year, yet 200,000 working days are now lost annually due to lack of sleep. Britain has become a nation of night owls, with almost half of the country regularly going to bed after 11pm. Living in the glow of blue light, people in the UK now check their smartphones every 12 minutes. It's a public health epidemic that many believe will only get worse.

Now a new exhibition at Somerset House this autumn responds to this modern dilemma, caused undoubtedly by capitalism. 24/7: A wake-up call for our non-stop world will feature over 50 artworks that explore the unrelenting pressure to produce and consume around the clock.

With artists such as Marcus Coates, Mat Collinshaw, Douglas Coupland, Harun Farocki, Susan Hiller and Katie Paterson, the show takes us on a 24-hour cycle from dawn to dusk, and includes immersive installations that hold up a mirror to our society, forcing us to recognise the complex systems that exert control, causing us to sleep less and disrupting our ability to daydream and pay attention to the world around us.

But it's not all depressing; other artists offer solutions, inviting us to unplug and unwind. From Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima's meditative isolation chamber, Life Palace, to Canadian artist Catherine Richards' Shroud/Chrysalis I, where you can opt to be completely shrouded in a copper blanket, blocking out any electro-magnetic signals from devices such as smartphones.

Inspired by the book 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by New York-based art critic and writer Jonathan Crary, it's the first time that a major multi-disciplinary exhibition has been dedicated to this modern malaise.

24/7: A wake-up call for our non-stop world at Somerset House runs from 31 October 2019 to 23 February 2020. You can book tickets online: www.somersethouse.org.uk.

Joseph Wright of Derby, Arkwright’s Cotton Mills by night, painted 1790s

Joseph Wright of Derby, Arkwright’s Cotton Mills by night, painted 1790s

 Catherine Richards, Shroud Chrysalis I, 2000 (Photo David Barbour)

Catherine Richards, Shroud Chrysalis I, 2000 (Photo David Barbour)

Alan Warburton, Sprites I, 2016

Alan Warburton, Sprites I, 2016

Tatsuo Miyajima, Life Palace (tea room), 2013 © Tatsuo Miyajima; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Tatsuo Miyajima, Life Palace (tea room), 2013 © Tatsuo Miyajima; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st century, 2019 © Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st century, 2019 © Douglas Coupland

Adam Chodzko, Sleepers. Hole, 2013

Adam Chodzko, Sleepers. Hole, 2013

Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st century, 2019 © Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st century, 2019 © Douglas Coupland

Pierre Huyghe, Les Grands ensembles, 2001 © Pierre Huyghe

Pierre Huyghe, Les Grands ensembles, 2001 © Pierre Huyghe