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Non-visual experience workshop for performance creation

2021-06-03

(Provided by Department of Theater Arts) How to “see” an exhibition, if one suffers from vision disability? Assistant Professor I-Lien Ho of the Department of Theater Arts, NSYSU, started a general education course in Theater And Performance Art Into Urban Life, with ‘city’, ‘ocean’, ‘body’, and ‘disability’ as the main themes, guiding the students through performance creation taking real-life situations as the starting point. The "Looking for Tony – Non-Visual Tour Experience” workshop was conducted by Chia-Feng Hsu, a visually-impaired artist from Kaohsiung, who took the students on a tour around the special exhibition at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts – "Black Box – Phantom in Form: Tony Oursler" from a "non-visual" perspective for an experience beyond the five senses.

Chia-Feng Hsu emphasized that there are different levels of sight loss and things cannot be just simplified to two categories – ‘ability to see’ and ‘blindness’. During the workshop, the students could wear glasses that obstructed their view in different ways to simulate the experiences of a visually-impaired person. They took turns to adopt the identity of a person with vision disability impairment, describe exhibits, perform bodily measurements, imagine and “feel” the exhibits in front of them. The workshop was followed a thematic tour route that let the visitors understand Tony Oursler’s works by “seeing and being seen”, and experience how the artist’s video recordings break through the image and break away from the limitations of the exhibition space. Hsu led the students to use other senses than vision to observe the numerous portrait works and projection equipment in the exhibition space, and reflect on “seeing and being seen” with both the eyes and the technology.

The participants reported feeling anxious as they could not see the surrounding space and had to rely on their auditory sense and on people who assisted them in walking. Some of them had to choose the right angle to try to see things clearly. Many students were very curious about how come Mr. Hsu is so familiar with the exhibition space despite being visually impaired. Student of the Department of Mechanical and Electromechanical Engineering Yen-Ju Wang said, “At first, I was the guide, and later, it was the teacher - Mr. Hsu who led me!” he said. Mr. Hsu mentioned that more visually impaired participants attending cultural events provided important feedback to the venues. Professor Ho said that when one loses bodily functions, such as vision, the feeling of deprivation can have a very direct impact on a person. However, “When you could not see, did your other senses sharpen?” This could be a feeling and a perspective for pushing students to reflect further on the condition of the visually impaired.

Professor Ho mentioned that this semester's general education course “Theater And Performance Art Into Urban Life” included numerous workshops for students to experience art with different senses and enrich their creative experience with the guidance of local artists and experts who led them in performance creation taking the daily life as the starting point. In June, the course students will give an artistic performance open to the public.

(Edited by Public Affairs Division)
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