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Audio description in the making online exhibition

Image description: Poster of the exhibit with dark blue lettering on a light green and textured background that resembles thick paper. On the top left corner appears the AIM lab’s logo. Under it “AudioDescription in the Making” is written in capital letters and under it “online exhibition” appears in a rounded rectangle. At the very bottom left, a large letter A is traced-out in blue so the background appears in the middle of the letter. Next to this A, a long hyphen swooshes across the page to reach the letters I, M and L, A, B in the same style of lettering at the top-right of the poster. In the middle of the page appear the names of the curators, Thomas Reid and Cheryl Green. Under, the names of the artists: Salima Punjani and Diego Bravo; Prakash Krishnan and Sabrina Ward; Pipier Curtis and Nicholas Goberdhan; Jessie Stainton and Caitlin Chan; Simone Lucas; Arseli Dokumaci; Raphaëlle Bessette-Viens. At the bottom the funders logos appear in black: Canada research Chairs and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Audio description in the making online exhibition

Audio Description (AD) is usually defined as a way to make TV, films, theater, and other art and media content accessible to blind and low vision audiences. In this standardized approach, AD is often reduced to an add-on that gets created only after artworks are finished. AD and the artwork, in other words, remain distinct. 

Hosted by the AIM Lab, artistic mentors to the exhibition, Cheryl Green and Thomas Reid, led a 3-part online workshop (September 2021) that challenged this separation. Instead of keeping AD apart from the artwork, they asked: why not consider AD as an art form in and of itself? Beginning from a place that centres the experiences of those who are Blind and recognizes the art in audio description, the workshop invited participants to reflect critically both on visual information and to view it as more than mere access. It encouraged creativity not only through describing an image or object but recognizing how description can generate new art. Participants began with a catalyst piece of art of media piece – audio described it, and then generated a whole new work using the audio description as the foundation. Instead of producing neutral or objective descriptions, participants were invited to experiment with approaches that highlighted the physical body, its situatedness, rich sensory experiences, and storytelling. 

The resulting series of works engage with AD in innovative and creative ways, exploring sound, text, movement, and their mixtures to build entire worlds. From an audio-logo to a binder that comes to life to sci-fi mediation to a lusty afternoon brewing mead to a video game adventure to artistic critiques of colonial pasts to glittering light that turn windowpanes into jellyfish, the collection of pieces in this online exhibit engages with the creative potentials of access. 

Poster design: Roi Saade