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BlindWiki: Unveiling the unseen in Sydney

14 September 2015
Art project invites people who are visually impaired to create a sensory map of our city.

When travelling in a foreign city or an unfamiliar place most of us rely on online maps and guide books to experience a new location – but what about those who are blind or have low vision?

BlindWiki serves as a window for the rest of society to become aware of the challenges and joys unique to people who are blind or visually impaired
Antoni Abad, artist and creator

In collaboration with The Cervantes Institute, The University of Sydney and the Spanish Embassy, artist Antoni Abad is bringing the BlindWiki art project to Sydney to work with people who are vision impaired in creating a mobile-friendly interactive sensory map of the city.

The community-based art project calls on people who are blind or visually impaired to share their experiences of navigating Sydney via their smartphones. These messages then populate a geo-located auditory map which becomes a guide for others who walk in their footsteps.

Spanish media artist Antoni Abad said BlindWiki, which has been trialled in Rome and Barcelona, is as much about storytelling as it is about navigation and obstacles.

“The app creates a sensory map by allowing users to instantly record and publish audio messages of their sensations of public places, the smells, sounds and experiences that might go unnoticed by sighted people,” said Mr Abad.

Professor Luis Salvador-Carulla from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy said the University is pleased to be the launch point for the Sydney BlindWiki. 

“It’s an exciting project for the University as we see ourselves as very much part of the city of Sydney and welcome people from all places and backgrounds to our campus,” said Professor Salvador-Carulla. 

“We hope students and our local community will embrace the project as the initial participants are the starting point through which BlindWiki will spread through Sydney.”

Since 2004 Antoni Abad’s creative enterprise megafone.net has been inviting groups of people to express their experiences and opinions through mobile phone technology. Participants transform their devices into digital megaphones, amplifying the voices of individuals and groups who are often overlooked or misrepresented in the mainstream media.

BlindWiki is the latest and most technologically advanced of his projects.

BlindWiki in Sydney is the result of collaboration between Instituto Cervantes in Sydney, the Spanish Embassy and the Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture under the Mobility grants awarded by Acción Cultural Española. It is supported by the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Research and Policy, and the Department of Media and Communications.

BlindWiki is an associated event of Art & About 2015.

Call for participants
Volunteers who are blind, vision impaired or friends, family or colleagues of people who are blind or vision impaired, as well as researchers are invited to help develop the BlindWiki project and populate the app.

Creative workshops will be conducted by Antoni Abad at the University of Sydney over three weeks from 5-7.00pm on 23 September to 9 October. Attendance at two workshops is all that is needed to participate in this art project and add your voice to BlindWiki.

Participants will populate the app with their own experiences of the University’s Camperdown Campus and will also have the opportunity to participate in an exploratory excursion into the city.

Introductory workshop:
Date:
Wednesday 23 September
Time: 5 – 7.00pm
Venue: Seminar Room 226, John Woolley Building, University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus. Entrance off Manning Road

Registration and more information:
Paula Llull, Project Manager
Email: sydney@blind.wiki or Phone: 0406 940 085

 

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