This visual article is based on my acoustic condition of bilateral Hyperacusis (both pain and vestibular type) with also its related levels of hearing impairments (i.e.hidden and fluctuating hearing loss, bilateral tinnitus, vertigo) as well as Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD). The combination of hyperacusis and PPPD creates a sensory disability.
Hyperacusis is a neurological and auditory condition which brings a higher sensitivity or decreased tolerance to sounds; it is developed when the central auditory processing in the brain perceives noise in an amplified way, leading to pain, vertigo, balance problems, often extreme discomfort and neurological overload. Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD) is a functional neurological disorder that brings together key features of chronic subjective dizziness, postural vertigo and other vestibular disorders. It is a chronic dysfunction of the vestibular system in the brain, producing persistent dizziness, vertigo (spinning and not spinning) and unsteadiness.
This piece is a follow-up from my previous visual designs, video artworks, installations and art-essays and papers I have been developing on the condition since 2017 [see References for this]. Here I am creating a new narrative with a focus on visualizing the inner view of cognition based on the disorders. I find the analytical and experimental approach of my art-academic practice helpful to cope with the conditions and also I started to understand that (through the publication of various of my artworks and academic essays in relation to hyperacusis and PPPD) there is a space to develop more knowledge around these often unheard conditions. This helped me define the identity of my current research and artistic practice, both with an intrinsic (learn more how to cope with the sensorial disability) and extrinsic (share awareness of the disorder) aspect.
I also started to reflect on the aesthetics of this invisible disability, and how I could visualize it within a process of research. And so, collecting data from living with hyperacusis and PPPD, I explore the neuro-acoustic disorders via media design analysis and interpretation of my personal and medical data. I am currently following a variety of therapies, such as Hearing and Sound Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Balance/Vestibular Physiotherapy; the artworks are a processed collection of data from the whole medical and therapeutic journey as well as my personal reflections (written daily) and data from psychological and pain managing developments. In its practice-based approach, my artworks then try to share an in-depth artistic and scientific exploration and visualization of the disorder.
In the process my art&design practice is divided in stages that reflect the evolving experiencing of the hearing&balance disorder. I write self-observations daily, and I then analyse them to abstract words and create poems that describe the condition in its various aspects. From the parallel medical data (i.e. tests, technical examinations, diagrams and reports) and therapy audio-recordings, I then interpret the data through computational media design graphics, both still and animated reflecting the dynamic of the condition. I then over-layer the graphics with the poems, creating a contrast of background and foreground data, which reflects the layers of cognition. This allows both the emotional responses and the rational observation to come together in one piece. I then use all this material to describe the condition further, creating a final layer/stage of visual abstractions. In this piece there is a dimension of seriality connected to the artworks where I try to depict the inner-view of processing the disorders, creating a narrative. This auto-ethnographic narrative is then a response to the acoustic disorder, with aesthetics that are representing the distance and the flatness (in how I perceive it) of the related neurological condition and physical reactions. Following is a selection of 20 processed images that create this narrative.
Damiani L. (2017) Art, Design and Neurodiversity. EVA2017, British Computer Society.
Damiani L. (2017) Art, Design and Neurodiversity. V&A Digital Design.
Damiani L. (2018) On the Spectrum within Art&Design practice. Spark Journal.
Damiani L. (2018) Designing the Mind with Hyperacusis and Tinnitus – V&A Digital Design publication “Artificial Intelligent” (Edited by I. Papadimitriou, J. Rogers, S. Prescott)
Damiani L. (2019) Processing and Designing Hyperacusis and Tinnitus. Art Journal Open.
Damiani L. (2019) Hyper Sensorial – Human Computed Neurodivergent Poem. Computing Human Interaction.
Damiani L. (2019) Hyperacusis Hacks : Media Design Ethnographic Processing. EVA2019, British Computer Society.
Damiani L. (2019) Blocked : Sound Sensitivity. ISEA.
Damiani L. (2019) Visualizing my Acoustic Condition : Poem, Graphics and Visual Podcast. In Hearing and the Medical Humanities. British Medical Journal, Medical Humanities.
Damiani L. (2020) Processing Auditory Processing : Video Poems. Hearing Health Foundation.
Damiani L. (2020) Aqua Recoded : Sound Art and Media Design Re-Processing of Hyperacusis. EVA2020, Computer Arts Society.
All images copyright and courtesy of Luca M Damiani
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