Our Birth – Silly & Soulful

This time yesterday I was reading a chapter about “partible paternity”, a belief present among many South American horticulturalist and hunter gatherer societies, that pregnancy is viewed as a matter of degree, not clearly distinguished from gestation…

Well, after approximately nine months, and with several fathers and mothers, I feel that our organisational baby, Blind Burners, was born last night at around 11pm. In our audio described cabaret tent in the We Are From Dust art village of a virtual burning man event, we gifted soulful and silly songs, cabaret, dance, and discussion with people around the world, sharing how we experience life and art, how we participate and communicate.

Our vision, a work in progress, is for Burning Man events, art, experiences, culture and communications to be accessible to visually impaired persons.

Our purpose is to celebrate the art, performance, and innovation, of people with visual impairments, transcending the limitations of the disability narrative.

Our art may feature environments where sighted participants are deprived of their senses and guided by the blind, but we want to move beyond this, and express ourselves however we choose. Soulful and Silly is our guiding ethos for now.

Burning Man culture invites participants to throw themselves into strange situations with crazy constraints, to focus on expressing themselves with immediacy and a spirit of gifting and communal spirit. How do these principles translate when these magical experiences are not built with a visually impaired perspective in mind?

And in this year of the Multiverse, when we are all missing touch so much, and our magical experiences have migrated online, how do we engage with this blossoming online creativity, when 90% of the internet is not accessible to someone whose eyes don’t work so well?

These are questions we began asking around this time last year, while planning our trip to Black Rock City. Over time we plan to share our videos of this experience: the lengthy preparations, the insane journey into the Black Rock Desert; the people who helped us to get there and the characters we met on arriving at our desert home; the art we experienced and the navigational and transport challenges we addressed; how we felt going in and how we felt at the end.

Our immediate priority is to engage with the artists and builders on the various virtual burns taking place and planned for this year. Put simply, as a minimum, we want these experiences to be accessible to visually impaired persons. The more we can participate the better. Ideally, we’d like artists building these virtual palaces to ensure that the User Interfaces they create are fully accessible, and that the visual splendour and interactive experiences being prepared for participants are fully described, so that we can all dive in.

Often these transformational changes can be made through very easy light touch adjustments. And in this, perhaps, there is a broader lesson for the changes we need to make as societies and as a race. We’re just getting sorted with our website and communications, but please support/like our baby Facebook group, and bare with us while we get into the rhythms of this baby’s young life.