Doug Winter is an artist exploring blindness using experimental photography processes.
Optics | Acoustics investigates the separate, shared and unique connection degraded eyesight has to memory, light, and sound and how collectively they comprise a vocabulary of personal reality and history. Through ocular investigations, the discovery of sight as a Venn Diagram emerged exhibiting a shared or common vision but also containing the uniqueness of individual perception. The images are informed directly from the untamed complexity of daily living, losing one’s vision or eyesight, and the resulting beauty of life and the human body’s resilience to adapt to disability. The photographic outcome is meditations of visual memories.
The investigations that inform my work are inspired by my father going blind two years before his death. While caring for my father, Harry, I’d ask him to describe in detail what he saw, measuring if his sight was better or worse depending on the day. He would describe the shapes and colors of objects and landscapes in photographic terms: blurry, out of focus, like a broken camera. I based the work on these conversations with my father, I realized that sight in conjunction with auditory and visual memories are unique to each person and are triggered by a combination of sight memory, color, and sound. Through ocular investigations, the discovery of sight as a Venn Diagram emerged, exhibiting a shared or common sight/auditory memory that also encapsulated individual perception’s uniqueness.
Optics | Acoustics – Analog/Human mechanics
A modified camera lens distorts the shape and color of the objects I photograph, pushing formal objects into a range of emotions and colors.
Modifying a lens that works with my camera and interprets the defective perception of a human eye was very challenging. When a camera lens cannot focus on an object, it creates circular artefacts. These circular anomalies (bokeh) are not present in human eyesight. This difference in how a camera lens sees and a human eye sees provided a big hurdle as I wanted my imagery to be devoid of reference to any mechanical lens. My goal is capturing images as a human eye sees, not as the camera sees.
Every Project Begins with a Question or two
Do the blurred contours of life meld and wash over time-worn memories of objects and station? Freshly healing, squinting eyes reveal a world beginning to take shape as loosely defined structures. These inflections of color and light inform our lives, giving us meaning, distraction, joy, and pain. Collectively do our visual boundaries build over time to allocate language, love, and kindness?
For people of older generations, paper holds precious visual memories. This project’s images are massive large-scale archival pigment prints on 315g Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta Paper.
The catalyst of this project
A portrait I created of my father, as we spoke in his back yard of trees’ colors, one year before his death. I snapped this image in late Spring with the camera he gave when I was young. I still use his 1965 Zenza Bronica medium format camera.