A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
Throughout 2002 and 2003 the Museum of Installation collaborated with the Brazilian / Canadian artist Alexander Pilis in an exciting visual arts and educational project entitled, Architecture Parallax: Visual Crisis. This exhibition aimed to promote the visual arts to the visually impaired by involving partially sighted and blind members of the public in a project that directly addresses the notion of visuality.
The project encouraged the audience to explore the city as a multi-sensory landscape by examining the cross over between the sighted and blind, through an interdisciplinary relationship between Art, Perception, Culture and New Technologies. The project involved site-specific events at major London organisations, which commenced on October 27th 2003 and continued until November 10th 2003. Prior to the site events, students attended a blind awareness training seminar led by June Bretherton who acted as consultant throughout the project, and a lecture given by Alexander Pilis detailing his past projects.
Invited individuals from various professions acted as guides (interfaces) and offered an interpretation of each site to mixed groups consisting of visually impaired and sighted members of the public. Students from the London Metropolitan University as part of the City Volunteering programme documented these events with four cameras and audio equipment. The visual and audio material accumulated from these tours was exhibited at Unit 2 Gallery, London Metropolitan University, from November 12th to December 12th 2003. To accompany the Unit 2 exhibition a seminar examining the issues of mapping space and visual crisis was held which was open to all students and members of the public.
To ensure that the visually impaired were able to relate to the unique environment that each of the sites offered, the Museum of Installation collaborated with June Bretherton and David Whitehead, visually impaired consultants from JBC – London who have worked extensively with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). In their capacity as consultants to the Museum of Installation and the artist, Alexander Pilis, they provided awareness training to all participants involved in the project including the artist, interfaces, members of MOI’s production team, staff from Unit 2 Gallery and London Metropolitan University students (who were participating in the City Volunteering programme). This awareness training enabled all beneficiaries to offer support and guidance at all of the seven site events and throughout the exhibition at Unit 2 Gallery.
Role of Digital
Architecture Parallax: Visual Crisis embraced the digital cultural phenomenon by mediating between several ways of seeing. The use of digital media aimed to introduce technology as a way of communicating through audio and visual means. A fundamental part of this project was to make it accessible to a wider audience. It was essential to preserve the digital media from this exhibition as a catalogue of events in the form of an encyclopaedic library.
A seminar was held for the Students at the London Metropolitan University, which was chaired by Nicolas de Oliveira. The panel consisted of Alexander Pilis, artist and Mathew Chalmers, a reader in Computer Science at Glasgow University. The audience was invited to discuss their relationship to the crisis of the visual and take a retrospective look at their involvement in the project.
Interpretive material in the form of a catalogue, available in Braille and text format, will become an educational resource for the sighted and visually impaired.