Welcome to The Interval (#19), VocalEyes’ weekly selection of accessible cultural experiences available online. This week’s edition brings you Extant’s new digital storytelling Flight Paths, a new podcast about audio description from Canada, and audio-described Zoom tours from museums and galleries in London and San Francisco.
Extant’s Flight Paths is brought to life on screen for the first time in a new digital retelling of the 2019 production, co-commissioned by The Space, premieres on 15 August.
Combining animation, aerial movement and creative audio description, Flight Paths is inspired by the Goze, blind female storytellers and musicians who travelled the length and breadth of medieval Japan making a living from performing epic tales. Through interactive navigation by the Goze, viewers will journey through a unique, multi-sensory experience of Japanese cultural history and storytelling.
Learn more about the Goze on the Extant website, and read the interview with blind anthropologist Professor Kojiro Hirose from the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, who has a particular interest in the history of blind people in Japan.
In Extant’s 2019 production, two blind women took centre stage sometimes on aerial silks, sometimes with their feet firmly on the ground but always surrounded by voices, music, stories and ghosts. Read about the making of the production, with articles by the co-directors of Flight Paths, Maria Oshodi, Artistic Director of Extant, and Kumiko Mendl, Artistic Director of Yellow Earth Theatre.
Reviews of Flight Paths 2019
“satirical and moving; thought-provoking and exciting, this production is multi-cultural, multi-sensory and multi-layered” Disability Arts Online
“Extant and Yellow Earth Theatre have pulled off an ambitious feat, marrying acrobatics, partially sighted performers and Japanese culture.” Japan Society. Read the full article
Talk Description to Me, a new podcast hosted by Christine Malec and J.J. Hunt.
J.J. Hunt is an innovative audio describer and a natural-born storyteller. Christine Malec is a perpetually inquisitive member of the blind and partially sighted community who’s always wondering about something. Their discussions plunge into current events and topical issues to explore the content of important images, and help place vivid descriptions in their cultural context. Lively, hard-hitting, witty, vibrant, and fun, this is conversation with a view!
Art and museums
The Photographers’ Gallery Slow Looking: Pranav Lal, On Zoom, Saturday 1 August, 15.00 BST, Free
Join this online edition of slow looking featuring three photographs by Pranav Lal. Depending on the discussion, this session should last 50 to 70 minutes. Pranav Lal is a landscape photographer and writer based in New Delhi who also works as a cyber security professional. Blind since birth, Lal’s photography is guided in part by a software called vOICe, developed in 1992 by engineer Peter Meijer. The software essentially converts images into sound which Lal hears through headphones and helps determine what he is looking at.
Rebecca Singh is an audio describer and performer based in Toronto. Rebecca has described theatre, performance art and large-scale art installations with both live and recorded AD.
Audio-described exhibition tour of John Hitchens: Aspects of Landscape at Southampton City Art Gallery, by Jo Bressloff. (YouTube, duration 17 minutes 34 seconds)
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Michelle Wilcox will lead an audio-descriptive Zoom tour of the shuttered exhibit Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment. Michell will explain the Himalayan Buddhist tradition and what makes it unique. Selected pieces from the exhbition will be used to illustrate the origins of this tradition and how the art is designed to aid the devotee on the journey to enlightenment.
Duration: 1 hour. Join the Zoom call on Thursday, 30 July 30 11:30AM (19:30PM UK Time).
De Young Museum, San Francisco
Jim Kohn will lead a live audio-descriptive Zoom tour taking in at least 10 pieces from the De Young’s permanent collection. This ‘Connections’ tour highlights objects connecting traditional native cultures with contemporary times.
Duration: 1 hour. Join the Zoom call on Thursday, 13 August 13, 1:30PM (21:30PM UK time)
https://zoom.us/j/94116402560 (Meeting ID: 941 1640 2560, Password: 948041)
Image: Flight Paths: a digitally animated drawing of a blind Japanese woman walking in an open landscape. She is in side profile, wearing a purple and light blue kimono patterned with orange flowers, and holding a stick. The background is shaded in muted browns and greens, and a pale yellow sun looms in the horizon.
The Interval will take a break next week, but will be back in a fortnight, on Thursday 13 August.
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