WEEKLY

WORST NIGHTMARE, WILDEST DREAM
魂牽夢魘

夢裡,一切都是混沌而真實的。偌大無序的境界中,情節繁覆,轉換自然,忽而升到天上,忽而又墜落到深淵。好夢也好,惡夢也罷,終究只是曇花一現,夢醒之後,夢中如何,便忘乾淨,畢竟人的一生,做過的夢太多。然而,有沒有這樣一個夢,拼命想要忘掉,卻總在腦海內揮之不去,夢裡令人喘不過氣的一事一物,一觸一感,夢醒已深深烙在腦海內。患睡眠癱瘓症,人生超過半數時間飽受夢魘折磨的美國藝術攝影師Nicolas Bruno,選擇以攝影撕下蒙著夢魘的緞巾,釋放纏繞內心已久的恐懼與陰影。

這位1993年生的年輕藝術家,自童年便與夢魘博抖,夢魘實實在在佔據了他的一半人生。一般人夢醒就是全然醒了,而他卻總是徘徊於夢境與現實之間,每次在半夜驚醒,總是動彈不得,如被惡魔碾壓一般。夢裡所發生的一切,他都記得清清楚楚。為了逃避這種使他透不過氣來的恐懼感,他更曾兩至三天不睡覺。直到十五歲時,情況更達至不堪負荷的程度,幾乎每次閉上眼,夢魘與恐懼感便泉踴而出。後來從網上得知,這種症狀為「睡眠癱瘓症」,患者總是介於要醒過來但大腦仍未進入現實生活的狀態,因此他比別人更能清晰記下夢裡的畫面。隨後他向關係最為密切的老師傾訴,老師便提議他把夢境繪畫出來,正視問題。誰會想到,那幽森的夢境地帶,從此成了靈感源泉。他不再以強迫自己以不睡覺的方法來面對恐懼,而是以攝影,把虛幻無實的夢魘實體化,直面病症。

「我希望能帶給從未經歷過這種恐懼感的人一種視覺上的體驗,讓他們感受徘徊於夢境與真實之中到底是怎樣的感覺。」他的作品以詭異的畫面搭配陰暗色調,帶有強烈的超現實主義色彩。內心的創痛與恐懼,靈魂深處的吶喊,全然融蝕於作品內。作品內的角色不是被蒙著頭,就是被頭髮遮蓋臉部,透徹表達身處麻庳中難以言喻的恐懼與絕望。他的創作確有懾人心魄的魔力,作為觀者,只是佇立於作品前,靈魂也儼如置身於空蕩幽昧的地帶,不自覺渾身發麻。他身兼數職,不單單是攝影師,從搜集靈感至製造道具,他都一手包辦,連作品中的模特兒,也是他本人。拍攝過程亦大多獨力完成,親自佈置場景,再架個腳架拍自己,偶爾也會找來模特兒與自己共同出鏡。被夢魘纏身的無力與絕望,未曾親身經歷過又怎能拿捏得精準呢?確實,只有他本人才可把作品發揮得最為淋灕盡致。

在專注創作的過程中,他逐漸放下內心的恐懼與不安。即使偶爾還是會因夢魘而徹夜難眠,但他不再被其支配,而是牢牢地控制著它,藝術替他征服了恐懼,安定了破碎的靈魂。「害怕會使人深陷於恐懼中不能自拔,每當感到害怕而又一直專注於這種感受中,只會使你一直被困於恐懼中。」 他於一次訪問中說道。攝影不僅是表達內心思想與抒發情感的渠道,他更希望以作品告誡人們勇於直面病症,克服恐懼的最好方法,就是面對它,一步步接近它。當人面對恐懼並有意識的做選擇,命運的道路就會出現在我們眼前。

夢魘猶如雙刃劍,使Bruno陷於深沉的絕望與恐懼中,同時繁衍出源源不絕的靈感,賦予他面對恐懼的勇氣,驅使他勇於面對生命一切逆境。這個無眠藝術家緊緊抓住了詭譎多變的夢魘,讓它深隱於每一幅作品中,作品中的每一片靈魂,都與夢魘緊密纏繞。

撰文:許佩琳
美術:王曉澄

Dreams are vague yet vivid. In our dreams, there are no rules. Dreams can be fascinating, exciting or terrifying. We can fly up high to touch the sky, and suddenly fall into the abyss. No matter what we dream, the memories will fade after waking up. We always have trouble remembering our dreams as we dream a lot during our lifetime. However, is there a nightmare that you’ll never forget no matter how hard you try to erase it from your mind. Everything is so vivid, weird and haunting that you feel like you are pushing up the daisies in no time if you don’t wake up immediately. Nicolas Bruno, an American photographer who has suffered from sleep paralysis since the age of 15, overcomes the extreme terror of his nightmares by transforming them into hauntingly beautiful works of art.

The sleepless photographer, who was born in 1993, has been battling with sleep paralysis since he was 15. It is a terrifying condition as he is always half way between sleep and consciousness. He can see all the frightening figures floating around him while his body becomes immobile and unable to escape. He thought he was possessed by demons or something was haunting his house and refused to tell anybody. He was terrified to go to sleep and would be up for two to three days at a time. Later, he did research on internet and realized that he was indeed suffering from sleep paralysis. He then decided to tell his parents and a teacher who was close with him about his condition. His teacher told him to keep a dream journal and sketch out everything so he could analyze his dreams. In the process of sketching his dreams, he found out that this could be a really good supplement for his artwork. Thus, he started to make the intangible tangible by photographing his dreams, and uses art to battle the inner demons.

‘I aim to give viewers, who have not experienced these night terrors, a visual taste of what lives within the in between realm of sleep and consciousness.’ He says. Composing surreal scenes based on his own experience with sleep paralysis, his inner fear and despair are shown clearly. The characters in his works are all faceless figures, and he portrays both the aggressor and the victim in his images. The photos sometimes literally represent his nightmares, while some are creative visualizations of the terror he felt, and they really do send shivers down people’s spines. He’s more than just a photographer, that he even makes the costumes and builds the props by himself. Everything is meticulously planned, and after defining a character, he will make his costumes from scratch, or he’ll go to a local thrift store to see if they have anything similar that he can modify. He likes to have his hand in everything he creates, and he makes everything in the studio and brings them out to the shooting location. Once everything’s set, he will begin to express what he has been dreaming of. Moreover, he is even the model of his works, acting out his own visions of drowning. He successfully brings his nightmares to life by using photography, woodworking, costume design and creative storytelling.

Being able to share his work around the world is rewarding to him, he has since been able to cope with the terror. Meanwhile, it has given him a purpose and keeps him functioning in life. ‘What keeps a sufferer locked in the experience is the emotion of fear. Once you’re terrified, and you’re focusing on that fear, that negative energy can keep you up there.’ He told the general public about his view towards fear. Indeed, we must learn to control our fear, or our fear will forever control us. He tries to tell people that even in these most dire circumstances there’s always a way out and there’s always the way to move forward.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Although Bruno has been tortured by nightmares for more than ten years, it is the inspiration of his artworks and the source of his innovation. It also gives him a sense of control where he doesn’t have any control. His worst nightmare is indeed his wildest dream, surprising him with unexpected things that motivates him to step forward.

Text: Natalie Hui
Art: Agnes Wong

ISSUE #241

WORST NIGHTMARE, WILDEST DREAM

 

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