Installation for IF Milton Keynes International Festival : Artist in Residence 2010

where is our culture heading?

[Download it below]

Press Release

'Audiofile Album'
not for profit release by the audiOh!Room [#audiOh!34]

* available from bandcamp *

The complete digital release comes in 3 parts

“Asleep at the wheel…” Info
Short documentary film about the installation
100 photo slideshow, visitor comments and other background files
“Asleep at the wheel…” Ghost Road Soundtracks
The complete audio content from the 10 in-car soundtracks – including all the inspiring
spoken word extracts from a range of people who understand the consequences of our culture.
You can listen to all the tracks in one go, or just let them pop up in shuffle mode. In fact a car is an ideal place
to listen to this entire album. Burn all the MP3s onto CDR’s and take them for a spin to the supermarket.
Then decide what we can do next!

“Asleep at the wheel…” Glovebox Mixtape
A selection of music tracks from the installation.
Originally released as a C-40 cassette tape by the London label My Dance The Skull [MDTS07].
If you have a nice old car cassette player, you will be able to play it on the road, and keep it in your glovebox of course.


A small edition of the Audiofile Album is available as a boxed 'gift set' containing USB Car Key with LCD Keyring from the bandcamp


"If art can challenge our perception of the world and use all our senses in doing so,
the strength of the illusion is greater."
[review by Tom Conlan]


I was invited to make an installation on the theme of 'cars' in the city of roundabouts. Through thinking around and beyond this theme, I learned a lot about the implications of the way we live, and how our ravenous culture is feasting on our own planet. Pumping ourselves to a peak. I created a 'ghost road' of cars within a vacant supermarket as an informative portrait of that mind set, and how we can change it. The exhibition reveals how I became enlightened towards making a difference personally, and also waking up those around me to move to a more sustainable way of living and thinking. I am not perfect, but I am now awake.

Asleep at the wheel… is a metaphor for how we are culturally careering down the fast lane of life in charge of a lethal weapon with our head in a daydream and our foot to the floor with the expectation that the road goes on forever.

The exhibition is a thought provoking and immersive sound installation for multiple car radios, that contemplates our future. Exhibited in a vast disused supermarket, three-lanes of cars dissect the darkened interior, as the multiple hazard lights illuminate the space, revealing the finite road of our consumer driven daydream. 'More more more' is no longer a desirable destination.
You are invited to be a passenger in the back seats, as the in-car sound systems broadcast a collage of moving music and motivating sound-bites. On the return journey the Lay-by Library area encourages you to explore positive ways to improve our future together. Society's pedal to the metal attitude to our world is not sustainable and is running out of road. We need to change gear, before we overtake ourselves . . . our windows of opportunity are slowly winding shut. Come and celebrate new beginnings.

I spent my early years living on the edge of MK. [more project resources on extra info page here]

"A powerful experience" [The Times Newspaper]

over 7500 visitors in 10 days


Exhibition Plan


Installation Photo Essay

Location : Old Sainsbury's Supermarket, 703 Avebury Boulevard, Central Milton Keynes [opposite Iceland and the ski slope] 100 x 40m space

As you return from the road experience you are signposted towards

'Alternative Routes'
< The Lay-by Library
The reception & information desk > 'Services'


I decided to create an area of the exhibition for a series of books and films that have a positive message about the future
The table is made from 150 year old timber planks reclaimed from a train carriage built in Milton Keynes. A 3.5m round
coffee table is surrounded by comfy recycled sofas and hanging globe lights - The Lay-by Library. Where you are
invited to relax and absorb and inform with the 25 books & 4 films I found so inspiring. You can then write and share
your POSITIVE discoveries and Starlting Facts onto blank bookmarks. An area where you can relax and absorb.

the Services kiosk offers you free tea and coffee, with cake and friendly advice etc
I read that research has proven that when you take caffine, you are more succeptable to controversial information :->


My dad's copy of the Bert Kaempfert LP 'Sounds Sensational' plays in both areas... my favourite vinyl memory of him
read image below

[photography by Janek & Dave Pearson]

more photos of the site under construction and sounds in the space and so forth are linked here



A selection of the films on show in the Lay-by Library

Please watch the stunning videos below about where our
More More More - Now Now Now culture is leading us

'The Story of Stuff'

essential film by Annie Leonard


Below is an essential overview of the Post Peak Planet
interview with Richard Heinberg in 2 parts
. glorious


further interview here post copenhagen

300 Years of CHEAP ENERGY in 300 Seconds



Below is a very positive lecture by Rob Hopkins
the founder of Transition Towns

The most Uplifting and Positive and Proactive man in the room


+ a long interview with Rob Hopkins



In making this project I realised I too had to step up and do something myself
Best not
sit and stare like a bunny into headlights waiitng for the car to hit
please accompany me in joining the international 10:10 initiative

10:10 is the clearet way I have found to simply begin moving forwards with help and suggestions



Press & Reviews

"A powerful experience"
[The Times Newspaper]

"Thanks for sending through your incredible piece of work"
[Ben Margolis, Director, 10:10]

Many thanks for this, All good wishes"
[George Monbiot]

"If art can challenge our perception of the world, and use all our senses in doing so, the strength of the illusion is greater."
[Link to review by Tom Conlan]

"For the inaugural edition of the festival, I do not think we could have chosen
to work with a better artist-in-residence, as with Janek Schaefer."
Bill Gee - Creative Producer

"Thanks... Fantastic.... Great stuff...."
Rob Hopkins - Transition Towns

"So good to see art that offers vision, not just perspective."

[Link to review by Sami Grover at]

"Schaefer's perfect balance of concept, visual and sound."
Peter van Cooten at

"Great bunch of soundtracks, suitable for any situation."
Vital Weekly [Frans de Ward]

BBC Radio 4 'Front Row' interview with Mark Lawson
Asleep is the final interview in the MK Festival feature [MP3 link here]

An extended Youtube interview with Creative Producer Bill Gee about my background and exhibition

Exhibition review by Kellie Payne

+ See my artist intro speech about the project produced by


Comments Book
[download the whole exhibition comments book screen saver

etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc






the exhibition was opened by Geoff Snelson who is heading up MK being a new electric car city

Bob the Kisok duty manager says the exhibition was the most successful in the history of MK arts !



Audiofile Album Edition
The album comes stored on USB Car Key with a rechargable LCD slideshow keyring [audiOh!34]
Use it to pass the data on, to friends computers etc. Made to order from the audiOh!Kiosk
Download the free album above while you are waiting

" The Medium is the message... "



C-40 Cassette

"Asleep at the wheel..." Glovebox Mixtape

A 40 minute album of the installation music to play on your old car stereo or keep in your glovebox

Released by the London label My Dance The Skull [MDTS07]





in 2014 I released the anitidote album 'Lay-by Lullaby' on 12k in New York
inviting you to pull over and take a break from the speeding life - and daydream.



“Reality in our century is not something to be faced.” Graham Greene


& finally.....

My fav observation of all comes from Spinal Tap live on stage at Live Earth in 2007..
Standing in front of the global audience of millions they said...

"We are all carbon based life forms .... So whatever you do, don't breath out !"

exhibition opened the first day I sped past my 40th birthday 2010


Signposting a cultural diversion towards global sustainability