Unseen: Touch Field, 2014
Braille drawings, book, video projection and sound
Singapore Art Museum Commission
Sensorium 360 at the Singapore Art Museum
Unfolding like an endless topographical illustration, Touch Field depicts the cityscape of Taipei but this picture is also unique for another reason: it is a drawing meant to be ‘seen’ in the dark, by the hand instead of the eye. The tactile installation is a development of Unseen, an on-going project that Neo first undertook with blind and sight-impaired participants at the Eden Social Welfare Foundation in Taiwan, and the work now invites visitors to be immersed in – and experience – the reality of individuals who have lost or diminished sense of sight. During her residency, the artist collaborated and guided participants to create photographic self-portraits and images of their surroundings, which were exhibited in 2012 and subsequently rendered into the ‘braille drawings’ of Touch Field.Bereft of one perceptual sense, the body compensates and adapts by redirecting attention to other senses, notably touch and sound, to navigate the world, and with time and training, these other senses attain heightened sensitivity. The human ability to adjust and acclimatise in the face of challenging conditions is a characteristic shared by many, and for the artist, core to the work is the idea that people are more alike than we often believe to be true. In encouraging visitors to be more attuned to their other senses within the darkened environs, Touch Field also considers how we are able to interpret space, sans vision, whilst exploring the dynamics between imagery and tactile forms.