Glenda Bartosh

freelance writer, editor, artist

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Sound Drawing

audio recording based on a drawing

This collaborative art project is all about human reach — a visual metaphor of struggling in the dark to reach out for something new or understand that which we cannot know, whether we are artists, particle physicists, or anyone with a curious mind. It’s about the limitations of human reach; what lies beyond our reach.

To start, I made a 3-foot by 5-foot drawing. Although it was not necessarily made for people who are visually impaired, it contains various tactile elements. The dark ground of organized geometric marks made with graphite sets off a white semicircular area made with chalk pastel and complicated with layered with mesh, bits of thread and metal and tape. The semicircle was determined by the circumference of my own reach.

I then worked with Marilyn Rushton, an accomplished musician, educator and pillar of Vancouver’s blind community who has never had sight. She “sees” with her other senses. Marilyn explored the drawing with her hands, actually changing it in the process as chalk pastel and graphite mingled, creating an unexpected chain reaction. We recorded her fascinating oral descriptions, which were like those of an explorer discovering an unknown landscape. The recording was then played for a sighted audience, who had to “reach” for the drawing in their own imaginations based on Marilyn’s descriptions.