UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF TORTURE

2014

Bryan Lewis Saunders & John Duncan
Performed at LUFF: Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival 2014
Watch the video clip
Produced by Thibault Walter
Assisted by Haïlé-Yesus Ritter, Veronika Chekodanova, Nikola Mounoud
Lighting by Samuel Carroz
Sound engineering by Serge Carrupt

A torture device based on the Apollo Chair used by Iranian secret police SAVAK is set, with the victim (Saunders) strapped to it, his head inside a metal bucket to amplify his screams to his own ears, on top of a 1000W subwoofer mounted onstage. He attempts to recite the Rules of the Geneva Convention from memory as Duncan powers oscillator frequencies through the subwoofer and touches a 5 million Volt taser to both Saunders' exposed skin and the metal chair he's strapped to. The event ends when the victim, shaking in uncontrolled tremors, stops reciting to scream and is carried offstage.


Photo © Anne Lise Rossier Bodivit


Bryan Lewis Saunders (strapped to Apollo Chair), Veronika Chekodanova (stage foreground, pulling restraint), John Duncan (standing, right)
Photo © Ciné Ma Retrouve


Bryan Lewis Saunders (strapped to Apollo Chair), John Duncan (standing with taser, left)
Photo © Moju Vids


Bryan Lewis Saunders (strapped to Apollo Chair)
Photo © John Baillie



Bryan Lewis Saunders (strapped to Apollo Chair), John Duncan (applying taser, right)
Photo © John Baillie
Photo © Moju Vids

BLACK BOX

2014
Performed at Black Box, Los Angeles, as part of Pacific Standard Time produced by The Getty Foundation.
Produced by Liz Glynn

A choral piece, performed with volunteers who have all agreed to do whatever I tell them to without knowing in advance what they're in for. In total darkness we all undress from the waist up, then the music starts...

KICK

1991 - 1995

REICHIAN BREATH EXERCIZE EVENTS
Hyperventilation used to create a complete loss of physical and psychic control.

Narrenturm, Vienna
Dampfcentrale, Bern
Shedhalle, Zurich
Beam Hall, Tokyo (photo above)
Bears Live House, Osaka
Pilot Theatre, Tokyo
STEIM, Amsterdam
Hoogschool voor Kunst, Arnhem
Tacheles, Berlin
The Generator, New York
Brave New World, San Francisco
Music Gallery, Toronto
Lower Links, Chicago
Maryland Art Place, Baltimore
Saal 100, Amsterdam
Skinnskatterberg Music Festival, Sweden
AV Poetry Festival, Gothenburg

Also performed as:

GATE

1994
Performed on the altar of the Parochiale Kirche
IRRTON Festival, Berlin
Organized by Elke Moltrecht for Podewil

INCOMING

1993
Performed live over KUNSTRADIO
ORF Radio, Vienna
Produced by Heidi Grundmann

CAST

1986
Performed in the Women's public toilet at the 1986 Alternative Media Conference
Meiji University, Tokyo
Produced by Tetsuo Kogawa

SIGNAL

1984
Performed at Gatty Live House, Tokyo.

OUT

1979
Performed in private for a video camera under a freeway bridge
Sponsored by the Long Beach Museum of Art, Los Angeles

NO

1977
Performed live over CLOSE RADIO
KPFK, Los Angeles

VOICE CONTACT

1998
Lydmar Hotel, Stockholm
Curated by Thomas Nordanstad and Carl Michael von Hausswolff

1999
Watari-Um -- Watari Museum of Art, Tokyo
Curated by Koichi Watari and Thomas Nordanstad

2000
College of Art, University of Windsor
Windsor, Canada
Curated by Artcite

Event with live action and 4-channel surround-sound audio for single voluntary participants, nude, alone and blind, in a direct confrontation with actual vs. recorded voice in a completely dark, 5-star luxury hotel suite stripped of furniture.
All clothing and possessions given to a uniformed guard stationed at the suite entrance.
Rendered blind and vulnerable -- by choice.
The surround sound constantly changes, making the suite seem to fluctuate between a large hall and a smaller, intimate space, making echolocation impossible.
And then -- were they really alone?

THREAT

1995

Included with lecture on BLIND DATE in XXX event series
Kapelica Event Space
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Curated by Jurij Krpan

Infrared photo images of vaginas (ICONS) projected several meters high on the rear wall of an open space with a single entrance protected by an attack dog

Images © Igor Andelic

MAZE

1995
What happens when you're left alone with your own mind without any distractions and don't know when it will end?

Seven participants and I are locked naked and completely blind overnight. The other participants have no knowledge of what to expect, or information about how long the event will last.

WATCH THE VIDEO


Photos © John Duncan

MOVE FORWARD

1984
Plan B, Tokyo

High-volume sound in a completely dark concrete room for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, a film collage that includes animated diagrams nuclear explosions, images of pornography, S-M sexual acts and Hiroshima victims, is shown in slow motion onto a paper projection screen that divides the room from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. When the film ends, Duncan sets the screen on fire and sprays the burning remains into the audience with a fire extinguisher.

HAPPY HOMES

1980
Event for live radio talkshow hosted by therapist Dr. Toni Grant
KABC
Los Angeles

Dr. Toni Grant, a practicing psychologist, produces a Los Angeles radio talkshow that offers counseling live on the air to anyone who calls the station with a personal psychological conflict. The program is syndicated nationally in the Unites States via the ABC Radio Network.
One afternoon I call during her program, to ask for advice about coping with an emotional numbness I've developed after witnessing several incidents of child abuse while working, driving a city bus. The broadcast of this session is recorded (released on the e.p. CREED
).
The following is an excerpt of that session:

Dr. Toni Grant: You're on with Dr. Toni Grant, hello.
John Duncan: Dr. Grant, my name is John, and I'm a city bus driver for Los Angeles...
TG: Yes?
JD: ...I'm calling about a problem I'm having with a numbness I feel after several incidents I saw while driving.
TG: Yes?
JD: Let me describe them, to help explain...
TG: Sure, go ahead.
JD: One night I picked up a couple, a man and woman, who I guessed to be in their forties. Both were drunk or stoned or both and staggered on the bus, dragging what I thought at first was a pillowcase full of dirty laundry on the ground behind them that sort of bumped against the steps...
TG: Yes?
JD: ...then later on I parked the bus to check the passengers...
TG: For any particular reason?
JD: Well, it's a routine thing... part of my job.
TG: OK.
JD: Anyway, when I reached this couple the pillowcase had fallen open and there was a 6 month old baby in it.
TG: Ohhh... did you do anything?
JD: I shut the bus down, called the police and waited for them to show up.
TG: Yes?
JD: When they got there they talked to me, they talked to the couple, then came back to me and told me they couldn't do anything because they hadn't seen a crime committed...
TG: Was there any sign to... I mean, besides dragging the child on the floor how did you know...?
JD: Well, I didn't tell you that when I saw the baby in the pillowcase I could see that both of its eyes were bruised shut, so...
TG: Ohhh...
JD: ...so there was clearly evidence of...
TG: Yes... What did you do then?
JD: I refused to start the bus again until the couple had gotten off. But this incident has stayed with me...
TG: I can imagine it would...
JD: There is something else: last week I saw another thing that was similar. This time a mother and child, a girl who I guessed to be about 9 years old, got on and sat down right behind me where I could see them clearly in the mirror. The child was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and I could see that there were open sores covering her arms and legs...
TG: (Heavy sigh) Yes...?
JD: ...and the mother sitting next to her, telling her she was evil...
TG: (Heavy sigh) Yes...?
JD: And this time I just... drove. I didn't respond at all. I just felt numb.
TG: Yes... well in the first case you mentioned I'm surprised the police weren't able to do anything...I mean there are laws dealing with this...
JD: Yes, and apparently they've started getting better about dealing with this, started a crackdown...
TG: Yes, I would think so.
JD: Yeah, well... I haven't. And that has me very worried.
TG: Yes... John, can you hold the line for just a minute? I'll be right back.
[Cut to commercial]

BLIND DATE

1980
Performed in private in Tijuana, Mexico, in public at DTLA event space, Los Angeles, and in private at the Los Angeles Center for Birth Control for Public Spirit event series, Los Angeles
Curated by Linda Burnham, Chip Chapman, John Duncan, Paul McCarthy and Barbara T. Smith

DETAILS

1998 Lecture on BLIND DATE at Kapelica, Lubljana

FOR WOMEN ONLY

1979
Performed for Connecting Myths event series, Los Angeles
Curated by John Duncan and Cheri Gaulke

An audience of exclusively women is shown a collage of pornographic films, then invited to enter a back room and abuse me sexually.

EVERY WOMAN

1979
Performed with Paul McCarthy on Hollywood streets for Connecting Myths event series, Los Angeles
Curated by John Duncan and Cheri Gaulke

Dressed as a man one night, a woman the next, to experience the risk of sexual attack familiar to women alone on the street. My actions filmed by McCarthy from a parked car.

The SECRET FILM

1978
Performed at undisclosed location
Los Angeles

A film is shown to eight people, one at a time, on separate nights.
When the film has been shown to everyone, these witnesses meet and agree to keep the contents of the film and each others' identities secret.
The film is then burned and the building where it was shown is later gutted by fire.

SCARE

1976
Performed at night
Los Angeles
A response to meaningless attack from complete strangers.

Wearing a full-head mask, I knock on the front doors of two people I know well, specifically chosen for this event without their knowledge. The moment each man answers, I point a gun loaded with blanks point-blank at his face, fire once and run.