Braille as a device to investigate other sense involvement.

Braille poem written for place project. The sighted meaning is included below.

Braille Poem.

What is here,

Is only the mind's eye,

colouring a moment of memory.

One fleeting fraction of imagination.

I leave the heaving breast of beauty to your touch.

The creation of your own worlds to your fingertips.


I am interested in ideas that seek to expand what 2 dimensional surface can support and further represent. In reference to a project of place I think that methodologies that fracture the surface such as collage can open conversations on a flat plane that engage memory and the dislocated nature of experiences that the mind pieces together as one whole entity.

This idea of collage is one where the visual senses are still being employed but by rearranging the surface images there is engagement of different aspects of vision and interpretation that goes beyond flat painting. Collage however is still primarily representing visual information and relaying that back. It does this closer to the actual human experience of time and memory but it is still concerned with visual ideas.

My interest is in exploring what other senses a flat surface may engage as a process of investigating the limits of sense involvement in particular forms or types of artistic expression.

The use of Braille, which was the world's first form of digital (binary) writing, seemed to resonate with my ideas and feelings around the spaces at Curzon street station, which is now the last remaining ornamental architectural railway station building in the world. I found the cross pollination from those firsts and lasts an interesting amalgamation although they didn't form the genesis of the idea.

I am visually impaired myself and deeply connected to ideas around visual loss and the use of other senses which in time replace vision as ways of addressing the world. I felt this was an interesting project to convey not only a message which resonates with my own experiences but might also possibly communicate to others how (although one might express an idea purely visually) there are ways of engaging other senses on a flat surface. Of course there are many ways one might address this beyond 2D surface and installations and technology do this more and more but for me the challenge was to take an idea onto a 2 dimensional surface and visually represent other senses.

I have mentioned in a previous blog entry how I approached a personal place and recorded sounds and then used technology to deliver that as a visual waveform which a viewer can understand as a representation of sound. I then wanted to explore in this post how a sensation of touch can also be engaged on a traditional flat surface and explore further the elements within us that we might bring to a painting, image or other flat surface.

I wrote a poem in Braille that didn't seek to describe what the image might be but rather instead contained an emotional message designed to engage personal memory and the viewers own imagination and further highlight how touch sense could be involved in a 2D world. The visually impaired who can read Braille could directly engage with the poetry itself upon the surface but the person with sight who cannot read Braille can also engage with the idea of the world of touch. The message itself isn't important for a sighted viewer but the idea of touch represented visually is. It engages other thoughts whilst viewing the work in the mind of the sighted and seeks to create an open dialogue about the components that make up the totally of experiences an artist might be seeking to convey.

The sighted viewer would see an abstract amalgamation but it would hold a coherent sense of meaning by virtue of the processes it highlighted. Meaning of place is core to the image and is derived directly from that space but it allows the viewer to think about their own places in new ways as more than just rearranging visual information.

I am speaking here of the combined image of sound waves and Braille poetry to represent place which I will post as a combined image. The colouration of that image will be experimental at this stage as I might reproduce the dots in a brighter hue so that differing degrees of visual impairment can engage with them. This is a collection of ideas along the decision making process and not always necessarily the exact mirror of the final piece of work.



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