SIGHT (UN)SPECIFIC – An analysis of the event ‘You Don’t Need Eyes To See, You Need Vision’ in relation to Performance, documentation, memory and sight.
Dr Lee Campbell, Artist and Lecturer in Fine Art, Loughborough University, UK
Adrian Lee, Artist and and Independent Researcher
Dr Carali McCall, Artist and Independent Researcher
This paper promotes debate into varying aspects of The Future of the Document: documenting performance through explanation and analysis of performance-based practice that was produced as part of You Don’t Need Eyes To See, You Need Vision, a recent event which presented new practice by artists Lee Campbell, Adrian Lee and Carali McCall. The event contributed to an area of contemporary art practice relating to how practitioners have not only made works that go beyond pure visual sensation but are wholly dedicated to non-visual aspects, often prioritising the haptic, orality, sound elements and other sensory components (Coles, 1984; Marks, 2002; Paterson, 2007), but how practitioners have deployed acts exploring visual impairment and blindness to inform their work’s content and reception and by doing so generate public pedagogy of what it may mean to experience interrupted/removal of sight.
Practice produced as part of the event included Lee’s performance: making use of factual description in order to relay to an audience a series of events taking place in an alternative location. Lee suggests that ‘with the visual evidence removed we are left with just the eyewitness’s description. Painting a picture in words of where we are not. But without the visual how can we be so sure?’ The paper will link Lee’s performance with Campbell’s previous usage of factual narrative in the style of a Chris Burden police report in order to document performance. The paper will also refer to how the event proposed different versions of body memory by linking McCall’s performance of using the breath and sound of running to mark and punctuate space and Campbell’s performative lecture of instructing audiences to experience what it may mean to be visually impaired. Throughout the lecture audiences were instructed at various intervals through Campbell’s reading of his paper to close their eyes, allow someone to blindfold them, listen with the lights turned out as an extension of Campbell’s previous usage of bodily slapstick in performance in order to disrupt body memory.
Coles, P. (1984). Please Touch: An Evaluation of the ‘Please Touch’ exhibition at the British Museum 31st March to 8th May.
Marks, U, L. (2002). Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. London: University of Minnesota Press.
Paterson, M. (2007). The Senses of Touch – Haptics, Affects and Technologies. New York: Berg Publishers.
Lee Campbell: Dr Lee Campbell is an artist, curator and academic based in London. His practice plays with the parameters of contemporary art that draw attention to the performative and the participative within an art historical vernacular and seeks to interrogate how we may construct meaning between politics of space and the politics of artist/performer/protagonist articulated through visual and verbal languages. His doctoral thesis ‘Tactics of Interruption: Provoking Participation in Performance Art’ awarded by Loughborough University in 2016 made a contribution to knowledge in participative performance practice and the positive deployment of using interruptive processes; this is in order to provoke participation within the context of Performance Art as well as gain a better understanding of the operations of power relations at play.
Adrian Lee: Adrian Lee works in video, performance and sculpture. He explores the material that surrounds us by reworking and re-examining the trappings of our commercial culture. His practice investigates the processes of communication and persuasion used on both domestic and international scales. It appropriates numerous visual and aural languages, re-circulating their symbolic components to disrupt the logic of our assumptions. He reorganises familiar elements from multinational corporate advertising, to vernacular promotional material, via the icons of art history and the rhetoric and actions of those with power and influence.
Carali McCall: Dr Carali McCall is a Canadian-born, London UK-based artist; awarded her Ph.D. at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, UAL (thesis title, A Line is a Brea(d)thless Length: introducing the physical act of running as a form of drawing). Her practice addresses how duration, and imposed restrictions on the body can contribute to a greater awareness of what it means to draw. Approaching the body as a tool, she embraces the idea that the artist is not only physically present in the act of drawing, but also brings an experience to something that exceeds the object of art (be it through the body in live performance, video or sound recording, or photograph).