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.