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Please touch this sculpture!

This week, join artist David Johnson for a hands-on sense of 'what blind people have in common with everyone else'
March 2, 2016
By David Johnson

Works by David Johnson: "I am concerned with figuring the 'what-it-is likeness' of a sensory deprivation." Works by David Johnson: "I am concerned with figuring the 'what-it-is likeness' of a sensory deprivation."

David Johnson's exhibition
Sculptures from the inner space, please do touch! runs from March 2 to 3 at Concordia. Here are his thoughts on "presence and absence."

I am a totally blind person.

I had sight as a child and young man. I am unashamedly a “blind artist” rather than an “artist who is blind.”

At a superficial level, I enjoy the irony of a blind person producing visual art. But at a deeper level, I draw heavily on visual memory and I concentrate more on the non-visual aspects of “seeing” — namely associative memory, perception and understanding.

Themes in my art include: presence and absence, collaboration, synaesthesia and conceptualisation.

In general, there is still far too much emphasis on the negative aspects of sight loss. Yes, of course one loses colour experience and huge dollops of spatial awareness, but what one gains is new perspectives on the world with a rich fund of unique and exciting experiences should one choose to examine them.

The really exciting part is then to turn them into something else that others can experience. I am concerned with what blind people have in common with everyone else, not what divides them.

I am concerned with figuring the “what-it-is likeness” of a sensory deprivation. I am concerned with exploiting the well-documented idea that sighted people's vision can be altered, improved or changed by their encounters with the blind.

I am concerned with examining the fascinating and barely surface-scratched world of the shapes, forms, images and ideas that inhabit the world of my unique experience.

Blindness not only affects one's mobility and literacy, but also one's perceptions of form, shape, texture, and colour. A given object can have a very different effect on two sighted people; the same object will have a more dramatically different impact on a blind person.

I explore those differences. They include not only the sensory differences, but the psychological, conceptual and philosophical repositionings which sight loss brings to the fore.

My work seeks to speak as much and sometimes more to the visually aware as it does to the visually impaired.

David Johnson: Sculptures from the inner space, please do touch! runs from March 2 to 3, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in Room 11.655 of Concordia's Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts (EV) Integrated Complex (1515 Ste. Catherine St. W.). It is a Critical Disability Studies Working Group event, hosted by the Community and Differential Mobilities Research Cluster.

On March 3 at 5:30 p.m., join artist David Johnson and curator Florian Grond (a postdoctoral fellow at McGill), as well as Piet Devos (a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia), Arseli Dokumaci (a postdoctoral fellow at McGill) and Eric Powell (a PhD student at Concordia) for a round-table discussion.

For wheelchair-friendly access, use the Mackay Street entrance to the EV building, which has a ramp. Then take the elevator on the right to the 11th floor.


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