About the installation

Blind Reading is an installtion currently being shown at the IDI Open Gallery at 49 McCaul Street, Toronto as part of the Disrupting Undoing Salon. The show will continue to run daily from 12:00–9:00pm until 5:00pm Friday, April 5.

Although the installation has moved into a gallery and has taken on a different form than its original site-specific incarnation, the inspiration for this work remains the “Distributed Collaborative Laboratory” at 205 Richmond Street.

This project was sponsored by OCADSU in an effort to raise awareness on the nature of student spaces at OCADU. How do we use space? What spaces are offered to us, and how do the natures of these spaces determine the course of our efforts? The re-interpretation of space is a key component of this work, and others you will be seeing on campus throughout the winter semester.

What is this?

When people see this, they often ask, “How does this work?” Many do not in fact realize they are looking at an art installation.

But besides the imposing-looking physical structure, many also notice the blinds’ movements: They realize something is going on but are not sure what. Indeed, being portrayed by the first facet of this work is the frustration of recognizing that something is being conveyed, without knowing how to get at that message.

The time needed to observe the entire message and the obscurity of its encoding almost guarantee no one will be able to decode it, even if determined to observe it for hours. This website, in particular the Live Broadcast page, thus serves to help decode the message—an “assistive technology” if you will.

On the site, the ordinary “live broadcast” undergoes a reversal of experience: There is no video, but instead video descriptions and captions. In a sense, the screen reader experience becomes central to this second facet of the installation.

The original site-specific incarnation of this piece spoke directly of the space at 205 Richmond Street West called the “Distributed Collaborative Laboratory,” alluding to the obscurity of that part of OCAD University. Having moved into a gallery, this incarnation of the installation no longer makes any direct references to that space.

About this site

Live Broadcast

The live broadcast should give you a reasonably accurate description of what is happening at the site, although it is really not the same experience.

One thing worth mentioning is that the website does not in fact have any “secret knowledge” of what the message is. All it knows are how the blinds are moving up or down, or how they are not moving. So, to arrive at the captions, the site really has to decode the blinds’ movements.


Instead of viewing the live broadcast, you can see a simulated demo, which gives you a rough idea of what the installation looks like, but at an accelerated pace. The whole demo will finish in about an hour, for example, whereas the real installation will takes much longer to run to completion.

Visual design

Although OCAD has an official name in French and the abbreviation of that name is used in official press releases, that abbreviation would not fit into the existing logo. The logo will have to be reconfigured, and in this “accommodation” for a different language, things suddenly seem somewhat foreign. And it is the juxtaposition of this “foreignized” identity with a building that seems to be perceived as foreign in the larger context that underlines the “foreignness” of the installation.

User experience

In a lot of websites the screen reader experience is an afterthought, if thought is given to it at all. But is it possible to decrease the gap between this experience and the visual experience of the average visitor? What does it mean to have an equivalent experience?