Profoundly deaf since birth.
While growing up, I constantly questioned the ownership of sound and to an extent I was aware of how much value it carries in this society. Because of my deafness, I converse in a non-verbal and spatial language. My learning process was greatly shaped by indirect modes of communication: American Sign Language interpreters, subtitles on television, written conversations on paper, e-mails, and text messages. They inevitably convey filtered and limited information, which naturally lead to a loss of content and delays in communication. This experience prompted me to look into art, another visual language, which I have been able to internalize without much difficulty. Despite the fact that I cannot access sound directly, I perceive ideas surrounding the concept of sound as intriguing, hierarchical, and authoritativethe society clearly privileges auditory communication over other forms. Hence, I have embraced sound as a medium in my work because it gives me the most direct connection to society at large.
Not only am I interested in socially-constructed ideas about sound, but also the experience of putting aside my complex relationship with Deaf culture. As this society does not have a clear place for visual languages, I often sense a great need to legitimize our language by politicizing sound and the voice box, which are two tools I use to explore my position. This contributes to my practice of unlearning society’s views and etiquettes around sound. I have been constantly pushing my own relationship with sound to different physical and conceptual levels, and challenging its visual absence and limitations. I call it two things: ghost and currency. To explore the social economy of sound, I work with a number of collaborators who are hearing. Our non-verbal methods of communication often shapeand sometimes compromiseour collaborative projects. This opens up a new space of authority, particularly with regards to who has a greater say when it comes to the use of sound in our projects.
Overall, my deafness has defined and contributed to my practice as an artist; whereas by producing and performing sound, I constantly attempt to “own” it and continue my dialogue with society.