Art and audio description

© C. Lemay, 2012

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© C. Lemay, 2012

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Art and audio description

Residency from September 3, 2019 to June 12, 2020

As part of the project Interrogating Access: Resources for artists and organisations

A transcription of Claudette's presentation is available in accessible PDF format


In this research and creation residency, I aim to create an audio description project for people living with a visual impairment.

Currently, audio and video description services in Canada are primarily developed by the television industry, particularly by major broadcasters. I’ve been working in this field for several years. Video description consists in orally describing the primary visual elements of a video or program, such as setting, clothing and body language.

"The audio recording of the description is then inserted into pauses in dialogue, enabling the viewer to form a mental picture of what is taking place." (1)

In the context of this project, I aim to reflect on issues relating to the question of accessibility by extending it to the art milieu, that is, to artist-run centres, galleries and museums. How can we use language to describe a visual artwork? Is it possible to translate the impression left by an artwork? What kind of relationship emerges between a sight-impaired person and the person accompanying them? Can one of these people’s way of perceiving influence the other’s, and vice versa? In my artistic practice, I have long been fascinated by language, voice and translation—hence my interest in audio description. I hope this research will spark new thinking both about improving accessibility, and its considerable creative potential.

(1) Source: Source: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

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Claudette Lemay

Since the late 1990s, Claudette Lemay has been developing a body of work comprised of sound, photo, and video. Her projects have been presented in group and solo exhibitions both at home and abroad (Mexico, France, Finland), and in events worldwide, including the International Festival of Films on Art (Montréal), les Instants vidéo (Marseille), and WRO Media Art Biennale (Wrocław). In 2011, she completed her MFA in visual and media arts at UQAM. She is a member of Perte de Signal artist-run centre, La Chaufferie/coopérative Lezarts, and La Traversée—atelier de géopoétique.