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Tony Deifell: Seeing Beyond Sight – Photographs by Blind Teenagers

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Taken by Katy, age 13

With its ambitious, seemingly paradoxical premise,
Seeing Beyond Sight challenges our definitions of art,
vision, and perception and what it really means “to see.”

Visual artist and social entrepreneur, Tony Deifell works with blind teenagers to teach them photography. While it may seem important to have sight in order to photograph, Deifell’s book Seeing Beyond Sight proves that photography is about a vision. In December, Deifell spoke at Google about his book and described how the project opened his consciousness to perceiving the possibilities in the world.

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Tony Deifell writes about the book:

Seeing Beyond Sight is about seeing in the broadest sense. I use the physical behavior of light as a metaphor for the book’s five chapters: Distortion, Refraction, Reflection, Transparence & Illuminance. Light is what makes it possible for the eye to see – and to make photographs – but we don’t usually see light itself.

I thought of these five chapters as a journey towards light – towards an illuminance that is beyond everyone’s eyesight – although the source of light is not fully known. The road is already dark enough as we wade through distortions and refractions to explore ourselves and our relationship with the world.

Ultimately, we may catch only a glimmer of a picture larger than us – an image of the world that is just beyond our full grasp.

Here is a video of Tony speaking at Google about teaching photography to blind teenagers and in return what they taught him about seeing the world. (Note: don’t shy away from watching because of the length, it is work every second especially the video clip of his student Cassie talking about her love of Italian):



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Written by Zara Katz

July 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Blind Photography, Youth

Tagged with