It takes guts to experiment with art and then present it to the world, but imagine going deaf for a month in order to create art based on that experience. Well, that is exactly what Bryan Lewis Saunders has done.
Known for his experimental art projects, Bryan Lewis Saunders has created art under the influence of drugs and whilst blind.
The artist is set to release records of the experience with original hand-painted artwork for each cover under the label Des Astres d’Or.
Bryan was open about his experience going deaf and shared the thoughts and feelings that he had during that time:
So what is your Deaf Month record?
It is a vinyl record that will be out on the label Des Astres d’Or in the Netherlands – limited to only 25 records each with hand printed covers by me. The tracks on the record are all documents and reenactments of sounds and things I experienced and made while I was trying to be deaf.
The last 10 days I was hallucinating non stop. I lasted 28 days total.
What did you find more difficult – going deaf or going blind?
Deaf, because it was way more painful. After blocking up my external ears every sound became exponentially amplified. Walking with soft footsteps sounded like earthquakes in my bones. Chewing sounded like trees in a forest being snapped off or ripped up and thrashed around.
I recorded the sounds I heard while I was trying to be deaf and edited the tracks immediately. I just tried to replicate whatever I heard like pure frequencies, and whispering or the ocean etc. I had a few auditory hallucinations of the same unknown lady’s voice and I wrote down what she said and an internet friend who sounded a bit like her recorded herself saying them. Things like that.
Now I’m hand painting 25 different images from that experiment onto album covers. They should end up being really special and important.
I was going for 30 days like usual, but I had to quit early because I was afraid that I was getting copper poisoning from the funnel I was using to hear with my Eustachian tubes.
I could speak through the funnel sort of; there is a phone call on the album. I wasn’t mute but talking was incredibly loud and painful so I avoided it as much as possible.
Do you think that by going both deaf and blind you have inspired people who may have these disabilities to be creative?
Well, I think art has always been about problem solving going back to when cave people were cold, hungry and trying to have babies and as we evolve we solve these problems but create new ones for ourselves.
In that way I think of my sensory/consciousness experiments as creating these big basic problems for myself to see how I can solve them with drawing. But that’s just a small part of it. These sensory deprivation experiments also lead to the enrichment of my life experiences, as well as the acquisition of knowledge, and confidence building by overcoming these challenges and so on.
The creation of new forms or processes with these experiences is secondary. I hope I inspire others. That is my number one role as an artist. For me inspiration is the most important part of art because I know how much art and other artists have inspired me and I too want to be a part of that chain in our evolution. Instead of having children I want to pass down my ideas like cognitive genes that can mutate and spread throughout our species.
I have thought about next year maybe being blind , deaf, mute, and wearing gloves to limit my sense of touch all at once for a month but it may take me a bit longer to able to afford it.
What do you think people will think or feel when listening to the records?
The recordings are so people can hear what it was like. My hearing went through these different stages. There was silence, but I could hear my pulse and my mind created sounds too. My ears began to create sounds of their own as well. There was what I called the frequency symphony which was like pure frequency sounds rising and swelling and interacting with each other that was maddening. And then all sounds were reduced to these 4 basic elemental sounds which lasted for 4 months or more even after i could hear with my external ears again. It was really something. Unless you hear the record though you can’t really know what it was like.
Was there any parts of being deaf that you enjoyed?
I very much liked all of the ways that my perceptions changed and the strange things that I hallucinated. And the way strangers treated me on the streets.
How did they treat you differently?
With great sympathy because I looked like a freak!
What future projects are you planning next?
Well I’m hoping to sell some Blu rays of the documentary about me “Art of Darkness”
as well as sell some of my art to raise enough money to get me to an economic place where I can experiment full time with all of the senses by the end of this year. I plan to experiment with temperature, touch, breathing and meditation, physical exertion, sleep, pain, and fear of death. I’m really excited about all that.
You can have a look at what art Bryan has on sale here
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