In an effort to understand why the number of visually impaired sound artists is so low I have created SVISA. Below is our manifesto. SoVISA is in it’s early stages and we welcome your support. Please contact us to contribute your ideas or resources.
The Society of Visually Impaired Sound Artists (SoVISA)
SoVISA is a group of blind and visually impaired sound artists, composers, and thinkers. We are working to strengthen the presence of sonic based art in museums and art education. We encourage other visually impaired artists to work in the medium of sound. As a community we collaborate on projects, discuss the challenges and rewards of being blind artists, and support each other’s creative goals.
Together we have been exposed to “art for the blind” countless times only to find ourselves vacantly running fingers over a topographic representation of the Mona Lisa or American Gothic. The standard touch gallery offerings serve more as a vague reference to the classics and provide a dictated museum experience instead of an independent discovery of the work. When given the ability to explore art without a guide’s assistance a blind person can experience the work on his or her own terms. Visually impaired people have intimate relationships with sound. A person’s safety, navigation and mobility, and problem solving are reliant on critical listening. The trained ear of a blind person might hear nuances in the Deep Listening pieces of Pauline Oliveros and the field recordings of Peter Cusack that even the artists haven’t recognized. Sound installations that use the acoustics of museum spaces, like the work of Bill Fontana, might have a stronger emotional impact on a blind person than of a sighted listener. We believe that a stronger presence of this work is a simple way to increase the number of visually impaired museum attendees. We also believe that the inclusion of this work will encourage more blind people to create sound-based art.
In our search for more members we have found that there are a very small number of visually impaired sound artists in the world. It is a baffling discovery..
To find out why sound artists are not prominent in the blind community we are asking these questions:
Is the small number of artists because of a lack of sound represented in art education and museums?
Is recording and capturing sound intimidating to someone who cannot see to utilize technology?
Is a blind person’s reliance on sound such a routine thing that sound is overlooked as an art form?
Is there a bias in the art world towards artists who do not work in a visual medium?
- Introduce visually impaired people to sound artists and composers making art informed by their disability.
- Create an accessible archive of works by established and new artists.
- Support the artists by organizing festivals, performances, exhibits, and distribution of recorded work.
- Inclusion in the design of audio descriptive museum tours.
- Create work specifically for a visually impaired audience.
- Encourage sighted artists to consider a blind audience when conceptualizing their work.
- Propose sound installations and recorded work to museums and galleries as touch gallery alternatives.
- Experiment with new interactive technology such as virtual and augmented reality.
- Host audio production and composition workshops for visually impaired people and ins
- Encourage others to use their inherent listening skills to create sonic art.
- Push to include sound into art education curriculums designed for visually impaired students.
To join or support SoVISA please contact Andy Slater firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in becoming a member please include a bio or CV and links to your work.