Seeing by Touch – an exhibition where exhibits can be touched! Design of the layout and visual identity of an inclusive exhibition
The exhibition is designed in such a way that visitors can tactilely experience the artworks of the visually impaired students attending the Vinko Bek education and rehabilitation centre, created according to a groundbreaking art education method developed by their art teacher Tanja Parlov. In addition to the students’ artworks, visitors can also tactilely examine twenty-four classic works of art by renowned Croatian artists and an attractive spatial installation titled Tuft.
How do blind and partially sighted people create works of art? How can sighted people experience their world? How to design an exhibition for blind and partially sighted people?
These are the key issues that guided the concept of the exhibition. Blind and partially sighted people do not paint, sculpt, make reliefs or draw standing up. They create their artworks while sitting down at a table and find it the easiest to work on a flat surface. This is why all the exhibits and their captions, written in the Braille alphabet, were laid out on flat surfaces and made easier to touch.
Dark room The exhibition begins with a dark room, which offers a simulation of blindness and impaired mobility and spatial orientation to sighted visitors. In the dark, there is a sculpture perceptible only by touch. Sighted visitors are thus placed in a situation commonly experienced by blind and partially sighted people and in this way introduced into their world.
Meander-shaped base with probe lights The students’ artworks and captions in the Braille alphabet are mounted on an eighty-meter-long, meander-shaped base, positioned along the gallery walls. A special atmosphere is created by the lighting, custom made for this exhibition, consisting of seventy “probe lamps”, each of them illuminating and accentuating an artwork. As the exhibition was produced with a very low budget, the lighting was ingeniously created using cheap water pipes, which were painted black and inserted with LED lamps.
Sculptures that are allowed to be touched Children’s direct contact with the works of art is an indispensable component of art education. This exhibition is a rarity in that it enables the tactile experience of the works of major 20th century Croatian sculptors: R. Frangeš-Mihanović, Kosta Angeli Radovani, Vanja Radauš, Vojin Bakić, Dušan Džamonja and Branko Ružić. The exhibition layout facilitates easy movements of blind and partially sighted people between the sculptures, while making these sculptures visually appealing. The exhibition closes with the Tuft installation created by the NUMEN group, which offers an extraordinary spatial-tactile experience.
Inclusiveness of the exhibition Exhibitions for blind and partially sighted people are often mounted with captions laid out at an angle, which makes reading difficult and puts a strain on the wrists. Likewise, hanging artworks on walls is not the best way to present the creations of the blind and partially sighted. This exhibition is therefore designed to enable any blind or partially sighted person to walk through it almost completely unassisted. The artworks are laid down in a sequence on a continuous flat surface, each accompanied with a caption in the Braille alphabet, also laid flat. Sighted visitors wishing to experience the exhibition the way visually impaired people do can walk through it blindfolded.
Exhibition design & visual identity: Marko Rašić + Vedrana Vrabec // Exhibition authors: Lana Bede, Tanja Parlov / Photo: Rašić+Vrabec, Denis Stošić, Ranko Šuvar (Cropix) / Braille print: Tiskara Centra za odgoj i obrazovanje „Vinko Bek“, Zagreb / Typography: OmoType font za osobe s disleksijom i ostalim teškoćama čitanja, PharmaBraille Unicode / Technical production: AB studio design Barjaković, Karlovac, Tvornica „Regeneracija“, Zabok, Tehnička služba Gradskog muzeja Karlovac / Organizer: Gradski muzej Karlovac / Organizing partner: Centar za odgoj i obrazovanje „Vinko Bek“, Zagreb 18. 9. – 22. 10. 2019. Galerija „Vjekoslav Karas“, Ljudevita Šestića 3, Karlovac