Winnipeg’s Sight Unseen exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) offers the public a hands-on approach to 3D photography by artists with vision loss.
“I would recommend this exhibit because it immediately shakes you out of your pre-conceptions about blindness and perceptions,” says Maureen Fitzhenry, CMHR’s Media Relations Manager.
“It’s also fascinating to contemplate the talent and skill of these artists – and the photographs are beautiful works of art in their own merit. The 3D tactile art pieces are also unique in the world and help spark thought and conversation about inclusiveness.”
California’s Pete Eckert visited Winnipeg at the CMHR, as a photographer who lost his sight and even so, continues to take photos at night, armed with his martial arts black belt, experience, and lessons learned from his Master’s Degree.
Having vision loss gives him new ground in his works, which reveal the rewards of the risks he takes in creating photos in many areas of interest.
He explains the most challenging part of his work is the assumptions of the sighted.
“I get to see a mind’s eye image of my photos,” says Eckert explaining the best part of his work.
“I let the work stand for itself,” says Eckert, “Why I do photography [is that] it is an investigating tool – a method of learning what is around me. I get a mind’s eye image of the world around me, or an image in my mind’s eye of something I built using light.”
The process of creating the images is much more powerful for Eckert than the finished product.
His photography career stemmed from his enjoyment of wood carving – the artist he is, and when he found his mother’s camera in a drawer, he immediately asked his wife Amy about the features of the camera.
‘My black belt gave me courage to go out and investigate the world without fear. I had a tiny bit of vision when I was going through all the ranks,” said Eckert.
Eckert gets a concept of how much light he is adding, and gets the sound and touch when composing the image. Rather than seeking out images, he creates them in his mind.
His inspiration is slow motion imagery, 29 Amazing Slow Motion Photography which he says allows the eye, mind, and camera to work together to create a between-the-scenes image.
Other slow motion photography examples are of Steve Heiner’s Moving Pictures column in the fall issue of Nikon World and the subject of the accompanying video that offers excerpts from several slo-mo clips shot by Heiner with COOLPIX and Nikon 1 cameras.
Inspiration also comes from Films Noir, ‘black’ film or cinema – a notion from French film critic, Nino Frank in 1946 – the genre of ‘dark’, downbeat and black, evident in many American crime and detective films following World War II. Examples are The Maltese Falcon (1941), Murder, My Sweet (1944), Double Indemnity (1944), The Woman in the Window (1944), Laura, and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958)).
“We are in a marvelous time for blind people; technology is advancing so quickly,” says Eckert.
“We have more opportunities than we ever had. Question everything and don’t accept limits.”
Fitzhenry explains the Sight Unseen exhibit is,“…a travelling exhibition curated by a sighted photographer named Douglas McCulloh, who lives in California. He chose all of the artists. The CMHR added the unique 3D elements and the interactive stations,” she adds.
Fitzhenry recommends upcoming guest lectures of photographers at this exhibit, which the next will take place on May 18, when the CMHR welcomes Bruce Hall – one of the featured photographers – who will be travelling here to give talks at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Douglas McCulloh will join him. Bruce Hall is from California as well.