Tinnitus: A work by Marije Baalman and Mariagiovanna Nuzzi
When it comes to hearing disabilities, Tinnitus might be one of the most common. In the Netherlands alone, an estimated 2 million people suffer from Tinnitus. It is a form of hearing damage, in which you continuously experience sound, even when there is no external sound. Tinnitus has many different causes, but the most common cause is (over)exposure to loud noise.
The tone people hear can vary from beeping sounds and flute tones to whizzing and crackling. Every form of Tinnitus is unique. People who have Tinnitus experience the sound they hear non-stop. In most cases, the sound is not only non-stop, but also predominant, even in the presence of external sound. As a side effect, people with Tinnitus often suffer from psychological issues as well.
In 2011, Marije Baalman and Mariagiovanna Nuzzi created a project called Tinnitus, or My little acufene. Baalman describes the work as a half an hour composition exploring the sound world of people with hearing disorders. The sound design in the piece is based on an interview with someone who suffers from tinnitus, describing the sound to Baalman and comparing it to the synthesized sound that Baalman has created. The person also discusses the social and psychological consequences of suffering from hearing loss and hearing a ringing sound all the time.
The public can hear the sound, but the interviewed person can only partly hear the sound. This is due to the fact that Tinnitus is a hearing perception produced by the brain itself in order to compensate for the damaged part, which is the sound frequency the sufferer misses.
Tinnitus is often a lonely disease, because one cannot see that someone suffers from it on the outside. What makes it even more difficult for sufferers, is that Tinnitus is uncurable. People with Tinnitus have to deal with hearing sound all the time. This is why Baalman’s work is an interesting piece: it gives the listener a look into the world of someone who suffers from Tinnitus, a glimpse into what it is like to have this kind of hearing damage.