Tomasz Madajczak

Communication Beyond Sound

The “Beyond Sound – Communication Through Art” project started at the beginning of May 2014. The project was dedicated to establishing a level of creative articulation between a group of deaf people and a hearing artist. The title of the project originated from the belief that through the connection of our skills, perception and knowledge, we can create a way of artistic articulation which can be equally beneficial for the deaf and the hearing. While discussing various issues which concern deaf people in relation to the hearing world, the group and the artist focused on most fundamental aspects of human communication like screaming, gestures, pictograms, the written word, scent. The group also emphasised the fact that the use of modern technology was widely broadening their exchange with the hearing world. During one of the meetings the idea was agreed on that gesticulation is a form of communication, from which sign language has originated. 

Many issues concerning the deaf community were discussed, such as the distress caused by the supremacy of the oral culture, its treatment of deaf people as deficient and its inability to accept the richness of the deaf culture, which has its own way of functioning and within which its members feel comfortable and fulfilled. Doubts were expressed as to the surgery performed to implant cochlear implants on new- born babies diagnosed as deaf and as to the fact that the education of a deaf person depends largely on their ability to adjust to the hearing world.

  As a result, the participants performed a scream as an act of communication, which was recorded. For many of the deaf people, the idea of screaming was abstract and incomprehensible, but, performed together after clarifying all the doubts, it proved a novel and liberating experience.

  Other subjects were raised and other experiments performed and a blog as a further forum for exchanging experience was created and active during the duration of the project. 

During one of out meetings we discussed different aspects of sign language, its origin and relation to hand gestures and body language used by hearing people during conversation. While discussing different sign language gestures, we observed similarities and realised that there could be a good level of confusion when some sign language gestures are observed by hearing people who don’t understand their meaning. I started to photograph these gestures and it made me realise the whole realm of different way of comunicating which is so fragmentary to us, because of not knowing the sign language and not understanding the perception of the deaf people. 



Spire in Dublin


The “Communication Beyond Sound” exhibition is for me also a possibility to look at the importance of the deaf community for the hearing world. The hearing people don’t have the experience of being deaf and therefore they are unaware, or only partly aware of certain aspects of human expression which are very natural and common for the deaf people. I think both communities can greatly benefit from a deeper exchange on a human and on the cultural level. I hope that the importance of communication which is underlined by this exhibition will evolve and spread, giving an opportunity for the deaf and the hearing people to exchange experiences and influence the evolution of both cultures.

The project has been exhibited in Skibbereen and in Cork City during the Culture Night 2016


© Tomasz Madajczak