Shining a light on The Flickering Darkness (revisited)

Three large screens displaying still images from the film of vibrant fruits.
The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) on display at Southbank's Unlimited festival 2014. Image for Unlimited by Rachel Cherry.

In 2015, Juan delGado toured his Unlimited supported work The Flicking Darkness (Revisited) to Tyneside Cinema and LCB Depot in Leicester. Unlimited Impact supported Juan and his team to employ Çağlar Kimyoncu to review the installation’s access for disabled audiences. Fiona Slater caught up will Çağlar to ask him about his role as Access Consultant and the type of support he provided…

 

You were able to offer a point of contact, advice and guidance for tour venues. What kinds of queries cropped up?

Each venue was different. I was able to offer advice on their branding; font, colours. Highlighting issues of layering text over images and not having high contract colours and text. It wasn’t about changing their style or brand but asking questions and making small adjustments, using Juan’s exhibition as a starting point. Some areas could be addressed and others couldn’t be immediately actioned.

I caught up with the Front of House team and asked them to think about how people accessed their services. I could draw on both my own and Juan’s personal experience of the gallery as a starting point for discussions. These were informal conversations rather than ‘official training’ – I think they put their guard down and were more receptive.

Timing was important. Newcastle (Tyneside Cinema) were in a transition period so it was a good time for them to start looking at their access, we could have detailed conversations.
Who were you supporting in your role as access consultant?

I think sometimes it is useful to have someone outside a project to ask questions, and look at ‘grey areas’. It’s important not to alienate the venues – they have to be on board, but my role here was about advocating for both the artist and audiences.

It’s always about trying to find a balance between the limitations of space and integrity of artist. If a space is not accessible you have a choice as an artist whether to use it or not.

You revisited and re-recorded the Audio Description for work – why was this?

It’s important to know who your audiences are and as disabled artists I believe we have a responsibility to make work accessible and ask questions.

The process of the Audio Description (AD) started long time ago. Juan was keen to try something new in his approach to AD. It was an interesting idea but I had reservations about whether this approach ‘led the work’ and perhaps was too interpretive. The function of Audio Description should be impartial and not a commentary. Audiences should be left to make their own mind up about the work rather than being led to one persons own view of it, even if that person is the artist.

During the exhibition at Southbank Centre I invited visually impaired friends to listen to the AD. They all said it was very interesting to hear the artist voice but that it wasn’t strictly AD. So the tour presented the opportunity to revisit the AD and put captioning in place.

Although the work does not include a dialogue, a lot of information was being relayed though a soundscape – sounds were important element and so required captioning. At some points in the work the soundscape is layered, so we needed to make a decision about which sounds to select and caption.

When re-drafting the transcript for captioning and AD, the main consideration was that language was more objective and not interpretive. We didn’t lose the artist’s voice – instead we included a separate track with Juan’s commentary which was more poetic and included the artist’s interpretation.

 

What other creative opportunities were you able to take with the AD?

We also translated the captions and AD into Spanish [the work is filmed in the Spanish speaking country Columbia and Juan is a Spanish artist]. This meant that Juan is able to build audiences in Spain. AD and captions are not widely used there so we are excited about bringing these new elements to new audiences.
As well as producing artists through Filmpro you are a practising artist, previously in residence at The New Art Gallery, Walsall through Shape’s annual artist residency scheme the Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary. How do you think your awareness of access for audiences impacts upon your own work?

It’s useful to be able to span the ‘producer’ and ‘artist’ role. When I’m creating work I keep access in mind all time. I am conscious of the teams’ access requirements – whether they identify as disabled or not and we have open conversations. It’s important to be flexible in the working environment, and realise that people’s requirements change from day to day.

In my work, my main function is to invite people into my own experience. When they are part of the experience they understand more.

 

For basic advice on access you can download our Brief Access Guide at the here.

 

 

 

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