Thursday, 23 October 2014

Photographs Transforming the Horror of Sleep Paralysis into Beautiful Art

Known on his social media accounts as the Wickedend, artist and photographer Nicolas Bruno transforms his terrifying experiences and hallucinations of sleep paralysis (click on link to read my introductory article on this topic) into fantasy images through which he hopes to offer glimpses into the nonsensical world of nightmares. Bruno started to experience sleep paralysis at the age of 15, at which time he began to wake up paralysed with the sensation of hands grabbing his neck whilst he witnessed the presence of shadowy figures in his bedroom. Sometimes he would see the walls of his room shift and melt and the windows open and close on their own.

After experiencing several incidents of sleep paralysis, Bruno began to document them in a notebook, describing his hallucinations, moods and feelings of helplessness. After his mind had cleared from sleep he would analyse his dream records to make sense of his nightmare experiences. At this time, Bruno was studying photography and his art teacher encouraged him to experiment with his personal experiences to enrich his creativity. Bruno decided to combine his sleep paralysis experiences with his photography as a form of therapy, and what he describes as a 'bittersweet homage' to his nightmares. 

Bruno's photographic shoots are well composed and executed. He uses his written dream records whilst at his chosen scene and studies what he has recorded so as to connect his surroundings to his dream visions, using effects such as smoke or fog to create an atmospheric nightmare environment. Many of the figures which appear in Bruno's dreams are not human and are either expressionless, deformed or strangely attired, so he incorporates symbolic props and costumes such as bowler hats, gas masks and antiques into his photography. Bruno has confirmed that his ongoing photographic project has helped him conquer his demons and control his fears. Reliving the nightmare experience whilst awake and without the sensation of paralysis has been key to coping with the emotional aspect of his sleep paralysis experience. He states: 'Photography is a medium where you can express irrational and rational thoughts, even dreams, through image', He describes his work as being 'like an unsettling handshake with a stranger' through which his viewers can get to know understand him and the workings of his unconscious brain. 

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