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Bridging the unseen in art writing

By Denis Heagney


© 2017 Denis HeagneyThis project asks how blindness can inform art writing practice to bridge an experiential gap between sighted and non-sighted art audiences. Initially focussed on reducing cultural isolation and increasing inclusion in visual culture for people with low or no vision, this project later shifted into practice-led research. Based on the Vislan concept devised by Brisbane linguist Geoffrey Munck, the work is directly informed by the lived experience of blindness, and aims to translate visual objects and spaces to assist in comprehension. The context of project explores my own practice in art writing as a form of critique and ongoing learning. After experimenting with ekphrasis, didactics and visual literacy, the methodology settled on formal observation and dialogic learning. The outcomes of a pilot project, iC2, created text translations of public art works in Melbourne and a custom built website (, made with the support of City of Melbourne Arts Projects. The pilot was presented at the Performing Mobilities symposium in 2015 and tested in public spaces with various participants on a walking tour, before being published online for testing. The full texts from the pilot project are included here as the creative component of this work. The final discussion suggests a generative language system as an adaptive tool for observing, verifying and writing about visual objects

Topics: art writing, visual translation, visual impairment
Year: 2017
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