WALKING BETWEEN WOR[L]DS WITH LINES was a participatory workshop delivered at Convocation II, Vienna, in October 2023.
The workshop offered the opportunity to employ self-generated text-based images as tools for exploring a garden space without use of the eyes.
Through a visualisation process, participants were asked to imagine a space of learning that was important to them. By following a series of verbal prompts, that space was gradually transformed in mind into a spatialised arrangement of words. Those words were then translated onto a tactile paper surface as an arrangement of graphic lines, like a form of notation.
In dialogue with a sighted interlocutor the blindfolded explorer would then set out into the garden with their drawing. Rather than lead or guide the explorer, the interlocutor’s role was to support the emergence of the explorer’s blindfolded world in language in relation to the visualisation. As the exploration developed and the relationship between the garden and the visualisation began to get increasingly complex, new words were added onto the drawing by the blindfolded explorer. These new words served to both affirm the presence of the visualised space in the embodied space of the garden – windows merging with trees, tables with bushes, etc – whilst at the same time reminding both explorer and interlocutor of the mediating function of language and its role in defining experience.
Following the workshop, I developed my workshop text into a digital booklet (available below). This text and its re-presentation is a response to the way that my understanding of the workshop developed through its facilitation. The grey text is the workshop text prepared for Convocation II; the highlighted text was written during the workshop in response to the activity; whilst the redacted text was prepared for the workshop but remained unarticulated. The images that accompany the words have been generated from the tactile grid that participants used to make their drawings. As participants explored the grid blindfolded, that structure’s temporal qualities came to the fore, enabling it to relinquish its modernist associations and blend with the garden. This blending was expressed by the participants in dialogue and through their drawings. It is represented here through the deconstruction of the grid’s formal elements in line with the participant’s discoveries.
Benjamin Jenner: WALKING BETWEEN WOR[L]DS WITH LINES: A WORKSHOP TEXT
This workshop and its ephemera are an extension of my own blindfolded explorations of space. They are intended both as a way of making the work public and of enabling others to practice and extend the processes I have developed through my research. As much as these events (workshop/workshop text) are about engaging tactics for blindfolded exploration, they are also about developing an embodied critique of the relationship between language and vision through deep listening and dialogic intra-action. This relationship is explored further in the work BLINDFOLDED FEEDBACK.