News - The Disordered Eye

Disabled artist and film-maker Richard Butchins

A documentary which challenges the importance of good vision in making great art, watch the trailer for The Disordered Eye...

Press Release

Disabled artist and film-maker Richard Butchins suggests that visual impairments have contributed positively to its creation. We take the things we see for granted and assume that what we look at is actually what it is. What is it that we are actually seeing, if vision is all just electrical impulses sent to our brains and then turned into images of reality by our minds? Richard questions whether we need good eyesight to make great art at all.

Examining the work of Monet and Degas, Richard discovers surprising revelations about the effect of impaired vision on many painters of the last 150 years and beyond. Michael Marmor, emeritus professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, explains how Degas and Monet used their disabilities in a positive and clever way.

The film also reveals how new scientific methods, progressive social initiatives and groundbreaking technology are shedding light on the lives of our most treasured masters, and opening up the art world to people who would never previously have been able to access it. Georgina Kleege, professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, shares her thoughts on blindness and art as someone who lost their sight as a child. And Anil Seth, professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex, explains how we see with our brains and not our eyes.

Richard also meets contemporary artists Keith Salmon, Sally Booth and the family of the late Sargy Mann, along with sculptor Aaron McPeake and cyborg artist Neil Harbisson, all of whom use their disabilities in a positive and clever way. Richard looks at art and visual impairment but argues that any kind of disability changes our perception of the world, whether we want it to or not, and that a disability can both alter and add a fresh dimension to an artist’s work.

Here's the trailer

Shown recently on BBC Four, UK viewers can watch the full documentary The Disordered Eye on BBC iPlayer:

Image - BBC

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