Blindness and the Everyday: A Documentary Perspective

Catalin Brylla

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


The portrayal of blindness in Western culture has largely constituted of stereotypical representations, branding blind people as either unfortunate, disabled and deprived, or exotic, mysterious and supernatural (Barasch, 2001). Documentaries, such as Black Sun (2005), have followed this trend by imposing themes in relation to memory, trauma, perception, the overcoming of sensorial limitations, and the coping with socio-cultural stigmatisation, resulting in blind people being commonly perceived as “the other”. This exclusive focus on the 'extraordinary' has come at the expense of omitting the 'ordinary'. Chemel (2006) observes that instead of focusing on the ordinary, society chooses the extraordinary in blind people, imposing upon them a need to overcome, to inspire and stand as shining examples of the extraordinary power of the human spirit. As Corbella and Acevedo (2010) concur, “it is infrequent to find characters with visual impairment represented as people who do housework, go shopping, or travel; that is, coping with the everyday tasks that are common to all people”.Accordingly, the notions of 'ordinariness' and 'quotidian life' prove valuable for representing blindness in ways that transgress stereotypical portrayals. My practice-based-research endeavours to map blind people's subjectivity through studying their everyday practices and spaces, as well as artefacts in which they invest emotion and feelings (Baudrillard, 2005) on a daily basis. Ferguson (2009) considers the concept of everyday life the most general and important focus for understanding society. Thus, my documentary work treats the everyday space of the characters as an embodiment of their subjectivity that translates into a metaphorical viewing experience for the audience. Consequently, the audio-visual treatment proposes a shift from ocularcentric ways of perception towards synaesthetic modes of experiencing quotidian life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationN/A
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sep 2014
Event Ordinary/Everyday/Quotidian Conference. - University of York
Duration: 26 Sep 201327 Sep 2014


Conference Ordinary/Everyday/Quotidian Conference.


  • blindness
  • quotidian
  • documentary


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