Film and video installation
HD / 30 min. / 2008


With Fernando Baena

The Obstacles (Los obstáculos)Audio Description (La audiodescripción) and Interviews (Entrevistas) constitute Video for the Blind (Vídeo para invidentes), a project that reflects on the relationship between blind people and audiovisual products. What is lost and what is gained in the translation from visual image to verbal image? The project questions the power of description and dialogue as a means of representing images and actions, and through them, concepts and emotions.

The inclusion of blind people in audiovisual culture is a right that they are increasingly demanding. Audio description is used in adapted cinema as a way of providing blind people with more information than is given in the original dialogue. Basically, the technique consists of including short, meaningful descriptions that make use of the silences between sentences. The aim is to achieve greater integration of the group. Video for the Blind pursues the same objective, but we believe it is more ambitious because it seeks to integrate the blind not only as spectators, but also as the thematic axis of the work, through their active participation in the making and enjoyment of the video. While audio description is normally only used in commercial cinema, we are applying it in an experimental video that consciously includes the reality of the camera’s presence and the aesthetic consequences of its use.

Obstacles make it difficult to walk around the city, and although they exist for everyone, they are particularly acute for people who are blind or partially sighted. The Obstacles is a video installation that uses two screens. One of them shows the usual routes of three blind people, Mariu, José María and Carlos. The images are recorded in subjective camera by the blind people themselves. The other screen shows the atmosphere surrounding each route and is also subjectively recorded by a sighted person. The sound, which is common to both but which distinguishes which of the screens it refers to, is composed of the descriptions given by the blind people of the choices they make during the journey – their mental plans, their use of memory, their anticipations, the reconfigurations they develop in response to unforeseen obstacles – and the descriptions given by the sighted cameraman of the environment and the technical choices he makes during the work.

On the other hand, while traditional audio description was originally created for sighted individuals and only later taken into account for blind people, in our work, both the description from the visually impaired person and the description from the sighted person are parallel and hold equal value. Therefore, each of them becomes audio description for the other group.

With the participation of Mariu del Amo, José María Nicolás, Carlos Galindo and Rafael Sánchez Mateos.

This project was developed at AVLAB 1.0 Medialab Prado and at LIEM-CDMC, Laboratory of Computer and Electronic Music at the Center for the Dissemination of Contemporary Music. It counted with the collaboration of María Botella, Simon Dell and Oscar Martín.



AVLAB 1.0. Medialab Prado, Madrid. 2008.