[Art_beyond_sight_educators] taxi signals for the blind
fnugg at online.no
Mon Jul 25 07:20:00 UTC 2011
Susan Woolf Artist Intent
Big Apple to see SA's taxi signals for the blind
South Africa's unique taxi hand signals have gone to New York. A
collection of work by artist Susan Woolf, inspired by the
gestures, is on exhibition at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art.
Artist Susan Woolf with the stamp collection of tactile shapes
inspired by hand signals used by taxi commuters in Gauteng Picture:
Woolf, credited with creating the first artwork based on the pervasive
taxi signals, is exhibiting a collection of tactile shapes which have
been turned into a braille version of her work.
The Sandton mother of three, who left for the US last Sunday, said she
was "completely surprised" and honoured by the museum's invitation.
"It's not something somebody expects," she said.
Long fascinated by the intricate hand signs between taxi drivers and
their passengers to signal their intended destination, Woolf was
inspired to develop a new language for blind commuters.
Her first work on the taxi signals appeared in a 2007 taxi-sign
handbook, which has been translated into seven African languages.
Woolf said a short video explaining the culture of taxi signs and her
development of these into a language suitable for blind commuters was
shown at the exhibition.
"It's a working travel language that's completely multicultural. There
about 50 or 60 hand signs in Gauteng alone," she said.
Last year, the South African Post Office launched a series of colourful
stamps of Woolf's taxi signal art. These have since been voted the
fifth-most important series of stamps in the world. The stamps also have
raised shapes of the signs for the blind.
The idea to translate the signs into a language for blind commuters was
born out of Woolf's natural curiosity.
She presented her idea to Blind SA and, for the first few years, worked
closely with the organisation to develop the language.
"So many blind people have to take taxis, and this is just a way of
including people. I didn't expect anything to come of it. I just did it
because it was right and it worked, and it was fun."
The response, said Woolf, was remarkable. The shapes were also
translated into a Braille handbook.
"Blind people have said to me that they felt wonderful to be included.
It's giving people a chance to look up a sign if they want to go
somewhere. It's empowering people with an option," she said.
Woolf, a graduate of the Johannesburg School of Arts, is working on her
PhD. Her thesis on the hand signs is based on the art and anthropology
of her research.
During her 19-year career as an artist, she has held exhibitions in
South Africa, the UK, Germany and the US.
The Taxi Hand Sign Shape Lingo for Blind People opens to the public at
the Museum of Modern Art today and runs until November 7.
link at Moma Talk to Me with video
What is /Talk to Me/?
/Talk to Me/ is an exhibition on the communication between people and
objects that will open at The Museum of Modern Art on July 24th 2011. It
will feature a wide range of objects from all over the world, from
interfaces and products to diagrams, visualizations, perhaps even
vehicles and furniture, by bona-fide designers, students, scientists,
all designed in the past few years or currently under development.
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