The initial, formative ideas for my art project ‘braille’, begun taking shape thanks to my studies at Centre for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind (CERB) – Thessaloniki Branch, where I started learning how to read and write in the Braille system. Through this tactile reading and writing system I had the chance to perceive texts and literary works, via activating my tactile sense. This entirely different way of “seeing” a text, stimulated me to transfer tactile sense into a new artistic project. The project’s title is dedicated to Louis Braille, the inventor of the homonymous system.
The use of this system in my project does not operate conventionally, by having adjacent words arranged in order for them to comprise an evident form, neither does it work obscurely aiming to create a more abstract one. Whereas theseconfigurationsmay evoke a sense of obscurity and incomprehensibility at first, one can nonetheless observe that they are used as a theoretical tool in linear order. In this way, a complete reversal of the concept of vision as we know it is achieved, since those who do not know how to use this system are rendered blind themselves, while those who are literate in Braille are able to comprehend the meaning of every sign, from start to finish, navigating the whole exhibition with ease. This process is assisted by the self-adhesive signs that have been placed on the floor and that will ease the process of navigating the exhibition with a steady flow.
The texts’ content comprises personal interviews of, centrally or peripherally, visually impaired people, who can only distinguish between lights and shadows, as well as interviews of people who are congenitally blind. Furthermore, the art project utilizes qualitative social research through the ‘case study’ method, since in addition to the interviewees’ level of vision, criteria such as gender and age were essential in reflecting a broader and more diverse spectrum. In these interviews, although broader issues were raised, I focused mostly on specific aspects pertaining to the way blind or visually impaired people perceive colours. Namely, the way they see, remember, and imagine the things they have heard of and discussed about within their immediate environment, as well as their initial spontaneous thoughts and feelings upon hearing a colour’s name [it is worth noting that the colour purple was not defined by any interviewee]. Through this project, my intention was to provide the impetus forthese people to express theirunadorned truth without my personal interference. In this way and by being shown glimpses of empathy, they were given the opportunity to position themselves as an equal part of society, in the fields pertaining to colour and visual arts as a whole.
The interviews were then transcribed and codified on paper using a specialised Braille typewriter, and the production of the final piece on aluminium followed. This material was chosen due to its ability to retain the surface stable and avoid any distortiondue to haptic studying and reading. The complete installationhas been structured and positioned in a way that it is legible and convenient for visually impaired people, and itconsists of twelve distinct aluminium surfaces. Each individual panelcontains three separate paragraphs, according to the interviewees’ level of vision. Hence, the guiding principle for the project’s curation was its full functionality, which was often also a guide at both a logistical and an organisational level, enhancing its foundation, while also enabling its conceptual dimension through semiotic codes and symbolic systems.