Maria clara Lorusso

2017 - Ongoing

City of London, England, United Kingdom; Apulia, Italy

Is it visual what we perceive through sight or is it something more? Lewitt in Sentences on Conceptual Art states that “If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics”(1969, p.4).

This argument made me think of visual art differently.

The initial step of the series I am presenting, called “BLU”, was lead by a research that compared poetry and photography, evidencing how similar they are in the way they create images. Photography uses cropping, angles, lighting (etc.) to convey feelings of reality. The medium might look objective, but in my point of view it is highly subjective. On the other hand, poetry uses language and symbols (such as letters), that are considered conventions for communication. These “conventions” are articulated, in poetry, through figures of speech that transform words, sentences and syntax, allowing conventional languages new meanings. As a consequence, what we call visual might be intended not only as what we perceive through sight, but what we elaborate through brain function.

The series I am submitting is based on the will of creating pieces for the visually impaired, in order to make images subjective not only to sight but also touch. My intention was to understand how “visual” media could be accessed by a visually impaired public. While researching, it did not take long to notice that there is a lack of academic discourse on possible ways of making visual art accessible to people affected by visual impairments. In order to create these tactile photographs, I started combining photography and poetry; I embedded photographs with the braille tactile alphabet (with the help of a laser cutting machine).

An argument could be raised: why instead of using poetry, I have not created three dimensional photographs ?

One important thing for me was level the audiences understanding and to not give more information to benefit one at the detriment of the other.

In order to do so, I have considered that braille is not well known by those who are fully sighted and decided to give to those who are impaired an alphabet that they are most likely to know. On the other hand, the photographs themselves were accessible by those fully sighted, while they would have been only partially accessible (or not at all) by those with sight conditions. The aim of the project is to be emancipatory, in producing material that could empower people that suffer from a position of disadvantage in receiving contemporary imagery.

Finally, I decided that the theme of the series did not need to be restricted to sight and blindness. I considered that producing a series on this topic and producing it in an accessible means are two very different things.

With this, I decided to create a body of work related to a subject that I was interested in, making it accessible to the widest audience possible. Considering my background and personal interests, I focused the topic of my project on the entanglement between female sexuality and its repression in catholic environments, with particular attention to where I grew up in Italy. The photographs are both documentary and portraiture.

What you can see in this submission are only the scans of those prints: I feel these pieces can only fulfil their purpose on paper as it is possible to touch them and feel the poetry. The final series is composed of over 60 images. The project, started in 2017 while I was attending the London College of Fashion, is still ongoing.

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