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Sight Unseen

Like One Third Eye by Scarleth White

Like One Third Eye by Scarleth White

Perhaps there is no better example of the biases of visual space than ‘Sight Unseen: International Photography by Blind Artists’, an exhibition curated by Douglas McCulloh for the California Museum of Photography (University of California Riverside) in 2009. Says the curator, “SIGHT UNSEEN raises questions about sight and photography. Sight is so pervasive and powerful that it makes us unaware of our own blindnesses. We see, and this is so strong that we think we understand. Said another way, sight itself abets blindness. And photographers-more commonly viewed as specialized visionaries-are perhaps the blindest of all.” Photographer Pete Eckert says: “Vision is so strong that it masks other senses, other abilities; it even overrides visualization. Sighted photographers always talk about the difficulty of what they call ’seeing.’ I tell them ‘If you can’t see, it’s because your vision is getting in the way.’” Evgen Bavcar, whose carefully composed shots evoke gothic fairytales, says: “Traditional photographers are the ones who are really a little bit blind from being constantly bombarded with images. I sometimes ask them what they see, but it’s hard for them to tell me. It’s very difficult for them to find genuine images, beyond clich├ęs. It’s the world that’s blind: there are too many images, a kind of pollution. Nobody can see anything. You have to cut through them to discover true images.”

Website: www.cmp.urc.edu or download the SIGHT UNSEEN catalog.

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