Photographs taken by the blind

June 18, 2009 · Print This Article

Seeing with Photography Collective, Radiant Abyss, 2003

Seeing with Photography Collective, Radiant Abyss, 2003

The L.A. Times’ Christopher Knight reviews “Sight Unseen,” an exhibition of photographs taken by legally blind photographers which is currently on view at UCR/California Museum of Photography. An excerpt from Knight’s review:

“For making art, blind artists face a special conundrum with camera-work. Photography is an artistic medium that is without tactile surface properties. Mexican photographer Nigenda highlights the dilemma by punching descriptive text into his photographs of a nude woman with a Braille writer, colliding a textual code with a visual one. Some can “see” one, the other or both.

But the medium is also one whose most fundamental property is light. (As explained by William Henry Fox Talbot and Sir John F.W. Herschel, two of photography’s 19th century inventors, the basic task of a photographer is “to arrest the action of light.”) Blindness is an impairment of light perception, which several of these artists address by employing light-emitting devices, such as flashlights or copy machines..

Blind, of course, is also a word regularly used to signify a lack of knowledge. “Sight Unseen” is most successful in undercutting that notion. The show proposes that these photographs be considered more akin to Conceptual art than to traditional camera-work.”

Although Knight’s review is mixed (read the full piece here), do make sure to check out the exhibition’s website (it won’t let me link directly so just do the usual clicking to find it), which contains images, recorded commentary and essays for those who can’t make it to the exhibition in person. Also note that I narrowly avoided making a really unfortunate pun just now.

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