The representation of blindness in media

Brylla, Catalin ORCID: (2013) The representation of blindness in media. In: Documentary and (Dis)ability Symposium, 20 Sep 2013, University of Surrey, UK. (Unpublished)

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The portrayal of blindness in Western culture has largely constituted of stereotypical representations, branding blind people as either unfortunate, disabled and deprived, or exotic, mysterious and supernatural (Barasch, 2001). Documentaries, such as Black Sun (2005), have followed this trend by imposing themes in relation to memory, trauma, perception, the overcoming of sensorial limitations, and the coping with socio-cultural stigmatisation, resulting in blind people being commonly perceived as “the other”.
This exclusive focus on the ‘extraordinary’ has come at the expense of omitting the ‘ordinary’. As Corbella and Acevedo (2010) observe, “it is infrequent to find characters with visual impairment represented as people who do housework, go shopping, or travel; that is, coping with the everyday tasks that are common to all people”.
Accordingly, the notions of ‘normalness’ and ‘quotidian life’ prove valuable for representing blindness in ways that transgress stereotypical portrayals. The practical output of my PhD endeavours to map blind people’s subjectivity through studying their everyday practices and spaces, as well as artefacts in which they invest emotion and feelings (Baudrillard, 2005), and which potentially serve as an “aide-memoir” – a catalyst for their personal oral history. Daniel Miller (2010) considers attention to materiality (clothes, objects) the most effective way to understand and convey human subjectivity.
The objective of my thesis is to depict the material space of the characters as an embodiment of their subjectivity, and translate their spatial experience into a metaphorical (not iconic) experience for the viewer. Consequently, the audio-visual treatment will propose a shift away from ocularcentric ways of perception towards somatic and synaesthetic modes of experience.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Film and television
Medicine and health
Depositing User: Catalin Brylla
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2016 21:13
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2022 10:44

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