[Art_beyond_sight_educators] The Blind Artist and the Volvo

Lisa Yayla fnugg at online.no
Sat Dec 12 16:07:39 UTC 2009


Excerpt from The New York Times article




"IN September, shortly before Esref Armagan, a Turkish artist, was 
escorted into Volvo’s design studio in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he 
would be the first person from outside the company invited to encounter 
the 2011 Volvo S60 
he said, “I promise not to look.”

Then Mr. Armagan smiled — he is, after all, blind.

The moment is captured in a new promotional video — posted on Volvo’s 
page and on YouTube — documenting how the automaker commissioned a 
painting of the S60 by Mr. Armagan, who is filmed running his hands 
along the vehicle’s exterior before rendering sketches, and, finally, 
the painting.

Filmed in a documentary style, the five-minute video — done by the Euro 
RSCG 4D advertising agency in Amsterdam and the Great Guns production 
company in London — is a novel approach for a teaser campaign.

Automakers previewing new or overhauled models often release photographs 
of the cars obscured by shadows or draped in cloth. Here Volvo likewise 
offers tantalizing close-up glimpses of the vehicle as the artist 
touches it, but the video turns out to reveal less about the S60 than 
about Mr. Armagan.

“I didn’t start out to be an artist, I just wanted to learn about the 
world around me that I was living in,” Mr. Armagan says in Turkish in 
the subtitled video. “Feeling around with my fingers has completely 
erased my blindness. It’s as if I see like anyone else.”

The avuncular Mr. Armagan, who is 56 and wears Ray-Ban Aviator 
sunglasses, was born blind and impoverished, according to a biography on 
his Web site. The self-taught artist’s work has been exhibited in 
Turkey, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.


“Esref is the blind person who has the largest set of perspective 
drawing skills to come to light,” said John M. Kennedy, a psychology 
professor at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, who has done 
research over three decades on how the blind draw.

Some blind artists have drawn from two-point perspective, capturing two 
surfaces of an object, which in the case of a box means being able to 
draw it at eye level while facing a corner. But Dr. Kennedy said Mr. 
Armagan was unusual in his ability to draw from a three-point 
perspective, capturing that same corner of a box, but from above or below."

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