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Explanatory Art: A Vision Update

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

I experienced a Posterior Vitreous Detachment in my left eye in February which has given me floaters and blurred vision. I explained some of the ways I've been adapting in an earlier blog post. Since my last writing, things have gotten better and worse. My stamina has improved, and I am able to tune out the floaters more than I could before. I've been getting out into the world more, and I even gave an artist talk at my solo show at Novado Gallery last month. Here's a post with press, installation photos, and pictures of me rocking my eye patch at the opening.

The trade off is that I've started experiencing what I think of as solar flares. This started happening at the end of April, so I'm not sure if that's a change within my eyes, or if it's because of the seasonal position of the sun. If the light hits my eyes at certain angles, I lose my ability to see as many details and contrast. That's no good! I started photographing places where my vision flared out, and they showed serious lens flares. I felt vindicated because I'd been telling people it was like driving into the sun with a dirty windshield. I tried printing the photos in my studio and painting over the top to replicate the experience. It's tricky painting a transient experience from memory. Sometimes I can see the capillaries inside of my eye for a moment. It's very strange and fascinating.

Did you know that there's some dude bombing down the sidewalk on his bike in this photo? Neither did I until I looked at it at home!

Walking home means heading west into the sun. In the worst instances, I would be unable to walk home if I hadn't taught myself to use a cane by watching YouTube videos from the channel Blind on the Move. Eventually I was able to get Orientation and Mobility training through VisionLink, and they were impressed with how much I had taught myself. They provide lots of excellent resources for low vision and blind people in the Philadelphia area.

I'm less blind if I wear a hat and stay in the shade, but intersections have no buildings blocking the sun, so they're very dangerous.

Today I remembered that there's a spot in my studio, which has a low ceiling, that causes this to happen to me, so I took a video to help people understand the angles at which light blinds me.

The distortion in the video wasn't as bad as what I was seeing, so I tried painting on top of the photos from observation. I kept having to step under the offending light, then back to my palette and painting, and this process made me feel a bit sick from watching the debris slosh around in my eye. On some backgrounds It's kind of like seeing the world through the viscous strands in egg whites.

I didn't do a brilliant job of photographing and editing these mixed media pieces, and I may come back and do a better job later, but I hope it is adequate for now to help communicate what I experience under these light conditions. Editing photos is a guaranteed headache. I shall return to this a different day. I hope that it helps you understand how I see the world these days.

In 2006, I had a retinal detachment that almost resulted in the loss of my right eye. I made a body of work to communicate my experience as a patient. You can see it at this link.

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