The pressure of society on what it is considered 'natural' and 'correct' plays the biggest role in our lives and affects our choices. As goldfish in a bowl we're unable to map out our lives, but we forget our past and live our lives day by day, like a continued dejà vù. We end up living a separate life, with our head in a bowl and the rest of the world outside - divided by a one-way communication. The sort of barrier that everyone has, and which keeps us distant from the others. It makes us deaf and our world 'steamed'. This separation often concerns our very being as well: a subtle but strong border between the world of action (our hands) and the world of ideas (our heads). Our hands carry the weight of our inner world, like Atlas carries the weight of the world upon his. Locked in our world, we sail alone across the sea of our emotions. But as soon as we emerge, we still find ourselves trapped in the goldfish tank and the air we breathe is never fresh. It just fills the lungs and always leaves us overwhelmed as we try to find balance in this new entropy.
The experimental experience
For the experiment, a big plastic bowl of 55cm diameter is used; the bowl is secured onto the participant's neck by a neoprene diving suit neck. This neck doesn't allow the water to go out from the bowl, which is filled by a small hole on the top (also used to breathe). "DEAF" refers to the direct experience of remaining inside the bowl. The plastic absorbs the sounds from outside, making us deaf and the internal sounds louder and more violent - forcing us to remain silent. People are made even more uncomfortable by the presence of the water, by the contrast of having a wet head whilst the rest of the body remains dry. At first they try to react to this new entropy, before gradually getting used to it. The water limit is set between mouth and nose, to allow people to breath easily and then to re-immerse their face in the water. The interesting visual effect coming out from this choice is that the face is magnified underwater, as if it doesn't belong to the rest of the body: big mouths, long neck. The focus is on their underwater facial expressions.
The setting
The setting is built with two vertical neon lights set on the side of the subject, to assure a full rounded light on the bowl. The background is made with a shiny synthetic fabric, deliberately left crinkled to create small light waves. The horizontal line created on the background, between the white wall and the fabric, adds more volume and depth to the bowl and to the whole scene, while the diffraction of the plastic creates the illusion of an underwater scene even where there is no water. 

Thanks to
Aghia Sophie, Alessandra Leone, Alexandra Jasper, Alexandra Padnanerens, Annina Scheiwein, Ashley Jones, Davide Bevilacqua, Domino Davis, Ema Discordant, Fabio Mattei, Hanadi Siering, Jana Kienast, Julia Ebell Huston, Krishna Bonadonna, Luca Gaetano, Lucia Schmorell, Nabi Nara, Robert Laue, Sebastian Rein, Sergio Assabbi, Stefan Möhl, Virginia Ascione, Will Gardner.
Concept and Photography: Dario-Jacopo Laganà |
Technical Support: Fabio Mattei
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