January 3, 2018

"On November 24, blind balloon artist HongSeok Goh opened his first US exhibit at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum."

"The installation is a representation of the cosmos, with a massive elephant depicting space and a plodding turtle for time. The colors and shapes he chose are also allegorical – the elephant’s legs are the colors of the South Korean flag, and its trunk, which unfurls into the head of a dragon, symbolizes the universe expanding. The turtle’s head is covered with stars to represent the United States. The sculpture, which is 20 feet long, took a team of six balloon artists from South Korea and two from America six days to complete."

HuffPo.

There are 3 main questions, I think, about an artist who is blind:

1. How can he make the art object if he can't see what he's doing? In this case, we're told that he had a team of not-blind artists doing the handiwork. But another way to do it would be by how it feels, and it might be interesting to sighted people to take a look at what felt good. Alternatively, the blind artist could work by his sense of touch alone, and museumgoers could be required to encounter it by touch alone, either by darkening the room or obscuring the object inside a box.

2. Was the artist blind from birth or does he have memory of seeing? This question is not answered in the article, but it's the main thing I want to know. He's creating visual art so what vision does he have in his mind? The objects in this case look like giant animals (made of balloons), so perhaps he's heard of these animals and touched them, and he simply told other people to make a giant example of this made of balloons, and that's all he did, without ever having received a visual image into his head.

3. Why would a blind person want to be a visual artist? That question is also not answered in the article. I'd like to know. It could be some idea of the importance that nothing should exclude blind people. But it might be some subtle concept about the visual dimension of the mind of a blind person that enables him to show sighted people something they cannot otherwise see.

25 comments:

rhhardin said...

Maybe it's a dancing dog thing.

Climbing Everest is out.

Kevin said...

Blind artist displays work in museum?

At one time this would have been an SNL sketch.

Kevin said...

Smart to pick the medium of balloons. Your work cannot be compared to past masters.

traditionalguy said...

I see. He is using super powers.

chickelit said...

The artist’s button is so big he can tie it into a balloon animal.

Quaestor said...

Speaking of blind, Huffinpuff assumes we are since they have not published a picture of the balloon sculpture in question.

rhhardin said...

Who knows how many senses even normal people lack.

rhhardin said...

The wave function that's at the bottom of quantum mechanics is the only quantity that there's a working and verified equation for that doesn't even exist.

Quaestor said...

Sculpture, among the plastic arts generally, is an art form open to the blind much more than painting or drawing. Many profoundly blind people have developed the skill to translate what they feel with their hands into a three dimensional mental image, which is why sometimes they ask to touch the face of a person newly met.

In classical Greece the trade of pottery was often practiced by visually impaired craftsmen, though decorating those famous vessels obviously was not. I had a GF in my undergrad days whose major was ceramics. She spends long hours late into the night throwing pots and firing them, and sometimes I kept her company while she worked — whether I was really welcome or merely tolerated, I can't say, but she seemed to enjoy my commentary and repartee. Mostly she would work with her gaze turned toward me. She explained that throwing a pot was more tactile than visual, much like playing an instrument.

The Korean guy must rely on assistants to help with colors, but I'm pretty sure his tactical sense allows him to visualize that which is invisible to his eyes.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sculpture, among the plastic arts generally, is an art form open to the blind much more than painting or drawing. Many profoundly blind people have developed the skill to translate what they feel with their hands into a three dimensional mental image, which is why sometimes they ask to touch the face of a person newly met."

Isn't that the Lionel Ritchie video "Hello"?

Quaestor said...

As a person who finds all impairments and shortcoming not my own uproariously funny I'll share a fond memory of a brilliant comedy routine concerning a blind butler and a deaf-mute maid.

Quaestor said...

Notice that the beauty in that vid is also a flautist. I'd surmise that playing a traverse flute by eye is a non-started (unless you're a horse with ten fingers).

rhhardin said...

Look up Derrida's Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins, a nice picture-studded book of analysis of pictures of portraits of, among others, blind people. In self-portraits, one eye is always blind, if I recall.

Probably out of print but probably in university libraries.

Another Derrida art-analysis essay is in The Truth in Painting, on van Gogh's old shoes with laces. p.257ff

among others.

Mary Beth said...

As a teenager, Goh contracted a virus that began to destroy the optical nerves in his eyes. Now 46, he has been blind for almost 25 years. As a young man, he described himself as athletic, an avid baseball player, soccer player, and cyclist with no artistic training or interest. “I began to twist balloons when I was 28, so I could have a job to do for the rest of my life.”

http://www.baltimoremagazine.com/2017/12/11/blind-balloon-artist-hongseok-goh-shows-off-massive-work-at-avam

dustbunny said...

There are a number of groups of blind photographers., I think they are mainly photographers who have lost their sight, not those born blind.

Quaestor said...

tactical

Sierra strikes again. I mean tactile, but auto-correct made nonsense of what I typed once more.

Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Ive always thought a Louise Nevelson done by feel would be interesting. The formal aspect of assemblage, painted black, would lend itself to tactile decision making.

tcrosse said...

Then there's Beethoven, the deaf composer.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Mary Beth.

William said...

What's My Line is off the air, but he would have been a sure winner.

Rick Turley said...

Dale Chihuly has had a very successful career not blowing glass himself with only one eye and a bad shoulder.

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, blind artists and deaf composers. But Beethoven was in his 30s when he started to lose his hearing so he was already an accomplished composer. And isn't a blind visual artist a lot like an illiterate writer?

Christy said...

The Visionary Art Museum has always been a hoot. The Fine Arts it ain't. I remember on my first visit being much impressed by a textile art in black and white done using bleach and syringes from a program to ensure addicts had clean needles.