what you think about photography made by blind people

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Jose A Martinez, May 25, 2005.

  1. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Subscriber

    Messages:
    603
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2005
    Location:
    Mexico City
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I was reading the thread about the need of glasses when I found out that someone post a comment with this link

    http://www.rvib.org.au/eventscal/4sightLayout_files/4sightLayout.html.

    I remember at once that in Oaxaca City the "Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo" shares the building with the "Biblioteca Jorge Luis Borges" a Braille library, it is kind of paradox out of the mind of Francisco Toledo, the painter and social activist of highest influence in actual Mexico.

    I was attending there to a lecture given by Mary Ellen Mark and at the end the director then asked permission to Mary Ellen to show to the crowd the photographic work of some blind people and she granted the permission and listen carefully the complete discourse of the two blind photographers and the directors too. When the whole thing comes to an end, Mary Ellen asked to some of us to join her to have diner, and at the table someone ask her her opinion about the "blind photography", her answer was: bla, bla, bla.

    I personally agree with her opinion, what is yours?

    Daniel
     
  2. 127

    127 Member

    Messages:
    581
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Location:
    uk
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    Not as crazy as it sounds - many of the photographers are partially sighted. They may actually be able to see the photographs, or even the viewfinder image BETTER than they can see the thing they're photographing.

    However the ones by the totally blind are actually the most interesting - you have to ask "why did they choose that subject", and it forces you to think of their perspective on the world. As a one off exercise I think it works - a larger body of work would loose that impact, and would be hard to take seriously.

    Ian
     
  3. mark

    mark Member

    Messages:
    5,261
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Kind of like those cooks on cooking shows who talk about the smell of what they cook. A lot of wasted time. I've seen some photography by completely blind people and I even asked what drew their attention to a specific image. They said they heard a cool sound. The image was blurry and without substance. You can't record sound with a camera or a blurry image, just like you can't smell what is on TV.

    On the other hand, I saw some sculptures by a couple of blind art students. Upon looking at them I saw some funky shapes. They told the crowd that to truely experience their sculptures they had to be blind and see the sculpture like the artist did. I closed my eyes and DAMN! They were soooooooo cool. Totally tactile. They morphed under the hand, became believable. No offense to the ladies present but the scupture called Nude Woman that looked nothing like a woman felt like a woman.

    Both sculptors said their world was built of sound and touch, like all people who were born blind or lost their sight at such an early age that they had no memory of what things looked like.

    All in all, if they are selling and people are buying, all the power to them.
     
  4. KenM

    KenM Member

    Messages:
    800
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    Location:
    Calgary, Alb
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Well, photography is a visual medium, and as such must be made 'visually', and experienced visually. If a blind person makes a photograph, there's no way to 'understand' the photograph unless it's paired with some else (such as smell or sound). A blind person pointing a camera at a scene and pulling the trigger while hearing something interesting will be completely unable to create a photograph with impact without combining the associated sound with the photograph. Even then, chances are the photograph would be a failure.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that there has to be some sort of 'connection' between the photographer and the viewer. When both the photographer and viewer are sighted, that connection is the print. Or, flip it around - how would a blind person understand a photograph made by a sighted person? They can't, not without some other connection to the photographer. That's why sculpture works in this respect - it's both a tactile *and* visual medium.

    Diane Bos (who is sighted) has done some interesting stuff with pinhole photography where she recorded sound during the exposure. The pinhole photographs are, by themselves, somewhat interesting. However, when paired with the audio, they become something completely different, and inherently more interesting.

    Or, to quote Mary Ellen - blah blah blah :D
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,702
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country
    I think that Farrah Fawcett rolling around naked and painting with her tits is a great example of art or boob art. Bet Leonardo didn't think of that.

    Photography by blind people is really sound photography, a whole new medium kind of like driving a car while blind.

    What the hell. ITS ALL ART. WERE ALL ARTISTS. Even when I use my dick to paint inside the urinal. ITs all good.


    not

    Michael
     
  6. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I appriciate it for the aspect it is portreyed to me, as Blindness has been a strong part of my family, I don't know that a visual person can understand the meaning and capibilities that people who are missing one of their senses can have, I don't find anything wrong with it, and do quite admire their desire to experiance the process of photography, and wish them all the power they can muster to bring their 'vision' to life!

    Dave
     
  7. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

    Messages:
    863
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It was me who infested that thread....

    About MEM: I just love stories about artists who show how condescending they really are when talking in private. It's such revealing gossip. Chances are in such case as MEM's, that IF photographs by blind people where THE next fashionable thing in art photography and would fetch prices that starting competing with hers, she would have a lot more serious (=blablabla) things to say about it. And add to this the fact that MEM is not really in to photography as a conceptual art thing - she seems more bend on perfect technique.

    Apart from this, I do recall an interesting project by Sophie Calle (one of our more favorite artists) who worked with blind people. But then, I've always had a soft spot for conceptual stuff anyhow. Must be my university upbringing...

    Cheers, Norm
     
  8. veriwide

    veriwide Member

    Messages:
    117
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2003
    Location:
    Boone, NC
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    I have REALLY bad vision. Without my glasses, I would have succomb to the law of survival of the fittest long ago. People with normal vision put on my glasses and see into the future.

    I have often thought about doing a series of images that are shot close to the focus that I have with out my glasses. I've been looking for some inspiration for shooting lately, guess its time to try it out.

    Patrick
     
  9. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

    Messages:
    735
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota Tr
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Being an illiterate writer eye can relate to the blind photographer. If it were not for this digital due hikky voice-to-tripe translator eye could not express myself atol but I dew and eye can so why can knot the site less. Question mark. Damn it. Question mark! "?"

    Seriously, the blind photographer shows us that the fundamental problem (if there is a problem) of photography is the infinite number of photographic possibilities in any situation, and except for certain, well-known schools, there are no semiotics to rationalize the differences. A person's life's work shows what he's doing, his visual vocabulary, for better or worse, through series and very often a heck of a lot of help from several good writers, critics, curators. The blind photographer can only point to smells, sounds, breezes, temperature attractants (hot air?) - in other words, the writers, critics, curators.
     
  10. rhphoto

    rhphoto Member

    Messages:
    348
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Location:
    Vermont
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Mary Ellen Mark is kinda like that horrid radio personality on NPR, Terry Gross. I think people like this just like to associate with famous people, have their names show up all over the place, and schmooze whoever will further their status. I'm with Blansky - let's have MEM roll around in some Dektol naked and see what develops.
     
  11. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I didn't read the article nor have I seen or heard MEM. The head of the photo dept at a local collage has had her over to speak a couple times. His opinion of her as a person was really low, but likes her work and wouldn't deny his students a chance to see her.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2005
  12. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sad to think of this from the perspective of a sighted person, which really does not give us any perspective of the sightless person......I can guarantee you the sightless person who participates in photography understand what they are doing, far better than the sh!t faced person attempting to have sex...

    Dave
     
  13. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Subscriber

    Messages:
    603
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2005
    Location:
    Mexico City
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Robert, I think that your comment is completely out of place, and by the way tell me, I'm horrid because I quote Mary Ellen Mark, or she is the horrid because she make an statement about the photographs made by blind people with an argument to do so.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    it may be capturing light, but can you tell me what the blind see? after being in a family that has quite a few blind individuals in it, I can't explain what they see....we limit our responces to this type of situation based on the only things we know...but when one lacks one sense, what or how do the other senses compensate, or what new senses develop.....

    Dave
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,702
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country
    I'm missing the logic here. How does photography tell us what a blind person sees. It may tell us what they hear and then they point the camera and that's what the CAMERA sees. The resulting picture is merely what was in front of the camera.

    Now I'm certain some art-fool or gallery owner will be able to spin this into some great breakthrough in artistic style, but to me it's bogus.

    I believe the only way a blind person can describe what they see is through words or maybe drawings. How can they interpret their world with an instrument that is designed to be visual with cropping, lens selection, depth of field, shutter speed etc. How can they show what they see, when they can't see the result of the picture they just took.

    Perhaps if they were sighted at one time and had used a camera extensively then, and now were using it again (eg Beethoven with music) could it perhaps have merit but otherwise I don't get it.


    Michael
     
  17. anyte

    anyte Member

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    35mm
    What do I think about blind photographers? I don't know. What do I think about the photographs in the link provided? I'm not impressed. Just because someone is blind doesn't mean that a photograph of a toilet should automatically be interesting. It doesn't automatically make a photograph of a television interesting. It doesn't make a blur interesting. Unless they are using fully manual cameras I don't see anything at all impressive about the photos from the link. A fully auto camera is going to focus on something. You will get some kind of image. If you can judge distance by sound then you'll likely get the shot you are aiming for.

    I'm more impressed by blind people that can knit and crochet - and I have known a few that could.
     
  18. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I guess this type of stunt may raise cash for the organisation to fund projects and maybe some publicity, but at what cost?

    As for the rest of it just point a camera in any direction on auto-focus and you will get the same result.

    Sorry folks but I hear all this at work everyday that people with disabilities have equal rights and can have a life defined in "normal" terms by those that don't have a disabilty. Now I know I have some peoples backs up but can you honestly tell me that someone who doesn't have the ability to decide what to have for breakfast can at the same time vote in an election or consent to sex? OK that's a different disability but it's the people without a disability other than lack of common sense that decide for those that do.

    Those of us that work with people with disabilities know what their abilities are and know that the best we can do is offer them an improved life. We cannot give them a "normal" life because if they were able to have a normal life then they wouldn't have a disability.

    To my mind the people behind the project have taken advantage of those people who are blind, or in UK terms it might even be considered abuse.
     
  19. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    Boston area
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Why so vituperative?


    Clearly, this is correct.

    What is amazing is the level of sarcasm, condescension and distain that is evident in this thread. If you don't like the work of an artist, sighted or blind, walk away from it, criticize it (as opposed to them) or simply ignore it. If you feel a person is doing work that is offensive, speak out aboput the issue raised. If, however, you don't understand something, educate yourself. Making fun of an entire group of people because you don't understand why they practice a particular art form reflects only on your understanding, not on their work.

    Yes, Michael, we are all artists. Nobody can label us as an artist or tell us we are not artists. We self-nominate. The response from thinking, reasonable people either proves us to be successful in that endeavor or tells us we ought perhaps to seek other outlets. Much of the output of any artist has little to do with "success" anyway, so the process of making art may continue in the face of failure. I would posit that this is a good thing; VanGogh never sold a painting.

    My wife works for a school for the blind. I received from that school a donation of manuals of dark room technique and photography. On getting them I laughed about the concept of a school for the blind teaching photo. They do not, in fact, teach photo, but my lack of understanding brought me to look more closely at the photo work of blind and visually impaired artists. I came to see that the work, and the process are closely related in many cases. The choice of a visual medium may be a political comment, it may be a conceptual statement about the visual world now packaged in/on a piece of paper - something to be handled, folded, put in one's pocket. It may be that the artist is trying to replicate the visual experience he or she has so that the viewer can share the experience.

    How many sighted artists have work for years to get that innocent, blurry, light-bled world of the pinhole or Holga under their control?

    Ignorance is treatable, stupidity is fatal. Let's try to avoid stupid generalities about any group of artists or any activity that people, sighted or blind, may attempt to use in the creation of art. Most art is forgettable- bland, common and in need of a little something. Some art is magical and deserves to live forever. The wonderful thing is that we never can tell where it may be found. I, for one, am not ready to dismiss visually impaired photographers as a group. Most of their work will be garbage - just like mine, just like yours.
    Some will be wonderous and meaningful - maybe even mine or yours.

    Sorry if this is preachy. I guess I just didn't like the "tit dragging" and "dick waving" of the comments in this post. Sue me.

    Whitey
     
  20. Jose A Martinez

    Jose A Martinez Subscriber

    Messages:
    603
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2005
    Location:
    Mexico City
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    an explanation, only

    At this point I think I have to extent the comment. Mary Ellen payed full attention to the discourse (literally) of the director of the center, some comments by the photographers and look to the prints carefully, with full respect. When she answered as her opinion blah, blah, blah (sic), she refers to the intention of the director to put more value, artistic value, to the photographs. She never expresses an opinion about the impair condition of the authors (if you know the work of Mary Ellen, you must remember the nice documentary she made in a school for blind children in Rusia, I think in Kiev).

    And that's my point, I respect the work of everybody, as it is, but I think that some time the gallerists, curators, museum directors, etc., try to put value where it's none.

    Daniel

    ps, english is not my mother tonge, so forgive me if I miss the point or the subject sometimes, I'm not good in english sintaxis.
     
  21. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Daniel on this point I am in full agreement with you. I am more than happy to see people with disabilities doing things where they are showing that they have over come their disability. In this case I think the people such as "gallerists, curators, museum directors, etc" have actually proven what those blind people cannot do which is negative.

    I hope you don't feel that my comments were aimed at yourself as I rarely shoot the messenger. Your posting bringing it to our attention is valid to the point you are making.
     
  22. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the blind wish to participate in photography, that is their choice, just as many disabled people partake in olympic events.
    It is a pity there isn't a 'sound camera', which could single out and capture a particular interesting sound heard by the blind person.

    The photographic results on that site remind me of lomography.
     
  23. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Andy I agree there's no reason why they shouldn't try it, but there is a difference between what people with disabilities do as a "protected community" and what is done for publicly.

    In the para-olympics people are over coming their disabilities and competing on even terms. As such they promote a positive image and can over come predudice. However can you imagin a paraplegic competing against say Lindford Christie?
     
  24. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A lot of paralympians are more than capable of giving the likes of Linford Christie etc. a damn good run for their money. Aimee Mullins is one that springs (literally) to mind. Paralympians only compete seperately because they are not permitted to compete in the main Olympics.

    See Aimee Mullins here: http://www.gamefaceonline.org/1_3_mullins.htm
     
  25. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I stand corrected on the Olympics :wink:
     
  26. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,702
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country
    My sarcasm has to do with this and other posts of this nature we have had here that discuss art.

    My point being, if everything is ART then nothing is art. If every stupid endevor put forth by people, usually trying to make money, or be trendy, is considered Art or passed off as ART then it devalues serious attempts at people doing things of some quality or merit. Hence the Farrah Fawcett example. If laying on a canvas doing boob art is art then so is peeing in the snow.

    I respect your feeling for the blind and God knows that with people as visual as we are, that would be a horrible affliction. BUT blind photography to me sounds too much like a gimmick that someone with an agenda is trying to pass off.

    I won't sue you if you don't sue me.

    MIchael