If someone is put under an Imperius Curse, are they unaware for the duration - essentially unconscious while their body is under another's control? Or can they possibly remain conscious, able to experience what is happening, but unable to do anything whatsoever about it - a passenger in their own body?
Barty Crouch Jr, who has a lot of experience in both ends of the Imperius curse, tells us that its victims can be aware of their situation, although normally they are not:
‘But your father escaped,’ said Dumbledore.
‘Yes. After a while he began to fight the Imperius curse just as I had done. There were periods where he knew what was happening. My master decided it was no longer safe for my father to leave the house. He forced him to send letters to the Ministry instead. (…)’
(Goblet of Fire, chapter Veritaserum)
Harry, who is particularly talented at fighting off the curse, remains aware of his surroundings, but only barely:
It was the most wonderful feeling. Harry felt a floating sensation as every thought and worry in his head was wiped gently away, leaving nothing but a vague, untraceable happiness. He stood there feeling immensely relaxed, only dimly aware of everyone watching him.
And then he heard Mad-Eye Moody’s voice, echoing in some distant chamber of his empty brain: Jump onto the desk … jump onto the desk …
(…) suddenly Harry felt the empty, echoing feeling in his head disappear. He remembered exactly what was happening, and the pain in his knees seemed to double.
(Goblet of Fire, chapter Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
So it is possible, but not what usually happens when someone is under the Imperius curse.
Yes - but awareness seems a sign of resisting the Imperius Curse.
From the evidence we have, it seems like someone under the Imperius Curse who isn’t able to resist is largely unaware of their actions. In all the situations we see someone described as becoming aware of their actions under the Imperius Curse, they’re beginning to resist it.
Both Barty Crouch Jr. and Barty Crouch Sr. start getting flashes of awareness when they start to resist the Imperius Curse after being under it for a long time. Barty Crouch Jr. describes one of the periods he becomes aware while resisting his father’s Imperius Curse as waking from a deep sleep, and then goes on to say he “found himself” out in public at the Quidditch World Cup, implying he might not have been aware of how he got there.
“But Winky didn’t know that I was growing stronger. I was starting to fight my father’s Imperius Curse. There were times when I was almost myself again. There were brief periods when I seemed outside his control. It happened, there, in the Top Box. It was like waking from a deep sleep. I found myself out in public, in the middle of the match, and I saw a wand sticking out of a boy’s pocket in front of me. I had not been allowed a wand since before Azkaban. I stole it. Winky didn’t know. Winky is frightened of heights. She had her face hidden.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
Harry is dimly aware of what’s happening the first time it’s used on him, but even that time, he’s trying to resist it, and partially succeeded in doing so. Harry’s experience therefore cannot be considered a typical experience of being controlled by the Imperius Curse, since he’s resisting it,
“He had both jumped and tried to prevent himself from jumping – the result was that he’d smashed headlong into the desk, knocking it over, and, by the feeling in his legs, fractured both his kneecaps.
‘Now, that’s more like it!’ growled Moody’s voice, and suddenly Harry felt the empty, echoing feeling in his head disappear. He remembered exactly what was happening, and the pain in his knees seemed to double.
‘Look at that, you lot … Potter fought! He fought it, and he damn near beat it! We’ll try that again, Potter, and the rest of you, pay attention – watch his eyes, that’s where you see it – very good, Potter, very good indeed! They’ll have trouble controlling you!”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)
From what we see, it seems like awareness goes hand in hand with beginning to fight off the effects of the Imperius Curse, which somewhat implies that an Imperius Curse at its most effective leaving the victim with just a relaxed feeling, unaware of their actions. This would be logical, as if the victim knows they’re being controlled (especially if they’re aware they’re being made to do things they wouldn’t under their own free will) they’d be more motivated to fight against its effects.
We never have described or see inside the mind of someone who’s completely controlled under the Imperius Curse (not able to fight it at all), so we can’t say for sure that they’re entirely unaware. However, since awareness is seen to coincide with fighting off the Imperius Curse, it stands to reason that the more controlled the victim is, the more unaware they are.
I read the other answers and want to give examples from the movies
When moody shows the effects of Unforgivable curses on spiders, he brings one of the spiders near a water bottle to drown it. The spider is very afraid of the water and knows what is going to happen to itself, moves it's legs in panic to avoid the undeniable future. I think this part is also present in the books.
Second example is in Gringotts. When the trio go for Bellatrix's safe, Harry uses Imperius on one of the goblins at Gringotts. The face of the goblin suddenly becomes relaxed, and has no idea what is going on while under the effect of the curse. After the curse is broken, the goblin is very surprised to find himself near a dragon. But Harry is not a experienced Imperio caster and as others stated awareness only visible in terms of resistance and probably goblins do not have enough magical power to resist an Imperius curse.