Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BLIND. VisualEYES Without Your Eyes.

from lafayette journal&courier
interaction in art is becoming more relevant in an over-stimulated world.  the art gallery loop-and-leave is quite common as static art now has to compete with television and internet and smart phones for the attention of an audience.  interaction asks the audience to stop and consider something other than the visual aspects of the work.  maybe even asks an audience to use their smart phone to interact with the art.  so when i began talking to pete brown about his upcoming show entitled BLIND. VisualEYES Without Your Eyes, i became interested because it is a body of work created with the visually impaired in mind, and everything is meant to be touched.   it asks you, as a sighted or non-sighted audience, to involve yourself with the work on more than a visual level.  i make interactive art so i'm always excited to find someone else approaching the medium.  and that always makes me smile to write.

i met indy/lafayette artist pete brown at his studio for a preview and to discuss the show which will open on october 5 at Gallery 924 at the Arts Council of Indianapolis.  The show is in conjunction with BOSMA, an organization that runs support programs, education, rehabilitation, and job placement for the blind and visually impaired in the indianapolis area.  Pete has worked with BOSMA on several occasions in the past, through his position at the Eiteljorg Museum in indy, and in discussion for new ways to reach new audiences, he pitched the idea of a visual art show created with the visually impaired in mind.  BLIND. is what developed.

raised textures to touch
Pete is not visually impaired, but through meetings with BOSMA representatives and clients who are, he developed a body of work that aims to include the visually impaired in the viewing of visual art.   because his audience cannot visually experience the work, pete had to develop an alternative method for them to interact with it.  He does that through touch.  pete works mostly in a 2D low-relief manner with stencils and spray paint, using mostly pop culture icons.  in this case the icons are all people or subjects who are visually impaired or blind, for example, stevie wonder, helen keller, a mole, and a bat.  the works are a departure from his previous pieces, as these consider not just the image, but the backgrounds and texture of the surface as well.  you can feel what is visually a color shift, through a change in textures.  if you cannot see the color shift, you can feel the texture change.  you can make out the shapes of the images through the 2D-low-relief cut-outs.  and make no mistake; it is a different experience to look at the shapes and textures and to actually put your hands on it and feel it.  i'm certain that the experience is the not same for the blind as it is for the sighted, but the fact that an audience who eschews visual art as a rule, is now included beyond the subject matter, and invited to interpret the art is important and relevant.  because the question arises: how do you make relevant art that asks its audience to interpret it beyond what they see?  and that question develops answers with new ways to experience art.

Stevie Wonder, my favorite piece in the body of work thus far.  I didn't want to give too much of him away, because he is quite a standout piece.  The '2D low-relief' is giving great shadows behind the cutout images.
Daredevil is done in a series with different colors in his costume.  this is the red one, note the brail DD on his chest.  See the video below to hear an example of the QR reader descriptions.
Pete is also using QR codes and the QR reader app to give his audience another level of interaction.  We always like to hear from the artists themselves when we visit a show, and the QR links to YouTube video with Pete, himself, describing what you see and feel on the surface.  This allows his visually impaired audience to be led through the work through his eyes as they listen to the audio from the video.  but it also gives another dimension to a sighted audience.  listening to the artist describe the work, in one way, gives the audience an insight into how the work was created, and process is what an audience is interested in beyond the work itself: the 'how did you do that?'.

Pete's new show will offer the audience something it rarely gets: the opportunity to interact with the work.  he is offering another dimension of an art experience by allowing the audience to trace outlines with fingertips and to feel the transitions in patterns of raised edges and alternating textures.  this method of 'viewing' allows the audience to become more involved with the work.  it's the difference between seeing a friend across the street, and crossing that street to have a conversation with him.  undoubtedly people will have issues with touching the work.  they always do.  but the audience will find that art has ways of being important beyond the visual and that elements that affect other senses can be utilized to help create a new kind of art experience.  so when you go to see BLIND. VisualEYES Without Your Eyes, PLEASE TOUCH THE WORK.

1 comment:

Pete B said...

This is outstanding Zach, thanks a ton!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...