As usual my project has taken on a different shape as initially planned. Although the method has remained the same, meeting and interviewing Paul and Hazel to gather content and create the base for the video, my visual approach has changed. Instead of interpreting the audio and re-creating the visuals as initially proposed I have now applied a concept which draws on minimal and scarce transmission of visual information to put the viewer closer into the position of a blind person who does not receive information visually. It is not meant to be a ‘real depiction’ of how a blind person sees (blurriness, dark tones, change of vision etc.) but rather a way to avoid presenting the viewer with the usual level of visual information a video holds (usually heavily based on ‘watching’) and steer the focus towards the audio and what is said. The written descriptions, shown as subtitles, aid in imagining the things ‘shown’ and draw on the concept of using subtitles to provide further information like it is done for deaf people, to broaden the understanding of the content of the video.
A video project exploring the lives of a blind couple that has been blind from birth through a personal account and blurred visuals as well as written descriptions depicting an afternoon spent with them.
The project aims to give the viewer an insight into the life of a blind couple and especially focuses on the their everyday which is shown through the different devices they use to make everyday tasks easier for them. Though there maybe many commonalities, there are also many differences regarding the way a blind person navigates through their everyday tasks and their perception of the world. The base for the project builds a personal interview with someone who has been blind from birth, questioning and exploring various aspects of life as a blind person. The visual information shown in the video is distorted and kept to a minimum of motion and colour in order to force the viewer into a different mode of perception and making meaning, which is aided through textual descriptions.
“Everyday life can both hide and make vivid a range of social differences”, Ben Highmore points out in Questioning the Everyday Life. Being blind from birth is not just a physical difference (or disability if you’d like to call it) but is lived out in a social and cultural context, therefore it also becomes a social difference. Our modern Western world is slowly acknowledging disability, from making public spaces more disability friendly to a broader context of seeing disability not as a lack of something but a different way of living a life equally worth to everybody else’s.
The project is set out to show that being “disabled” doesn’t actually mean to not be able to do something but rather shines a light on the abilities and differences a blind person has and lives as well as their adaptation to a world which is dominated by ‘sight’. The video aims to bring the viewer closer to an experience which is not dominated by sight therefore the visuals are blurred and mainly held in dark tones which change only within a short range. This inevitably prevents the viewer from creating an understanding through pictures and forces an imagination of the things and people shown, something blind people have to do in order to make ‘sense’ of the world around them.
I am especially interested in the different ways in which a blind person makes sense of their surrounding, their perception and the many ways in which they navigate through their daily life, also using modern technologies such as phone apps and other devices.
Only 1% of blind people have been blind from birth and most have had some sort of visual experience even if only of a black and white contrast or blurred colours hence why the video is not completely ‘black’ and although is does not aim to re-enact the vision of a blind person it certainly results in a lack of visual information for the viewer.
This lack is then slightly covered by the written descriptions, which serve to mainly describe the look of the devices Paul and Hazel use as well as giving a few hints of the surrounding and what is happening. These subtitles serve to convey information which is not perceived visually, yet they leave the viewer only with a vague idea of how exactly something looks. This draws on the actual reality most blind people live, they rely on descriptions others give them or their devices provide them with, if they want to know how something looks like they have to ask.
The project aims to provide the viewer with knowledge, much like a documentary does, but through a very personal account. This knowledge is not based on how things look like, although the viewer might find themselves very curious and with the urge to create a better understanding, but on how it is presented. The ‘learning’ comes from listening and I hope that after watching the video the viewer realises that they can gain a great understanding even without ‘seeing’ anything and that they got to know the interviewees without knowing how they look like (which might also not be of great importance).