We first heard about Daniel Kish on a This American Life podcast call “Batman”. Daniel is blind, but famously is able to use sound to form a picture of the world around him.
There were two things that amazed us about his story. One was the idea of Echolocation itself. Who would've thought that humans could actually do this? The second was the personality of Daniel – this guy who as a kid refused to allow the inconvenient fact that he didn't have eyes to stop him from doing the kind of things other kids did – who refused to think of himself as having a disability and who now goes around the world teaching other blind people to do what he does. He sounded amazing but almost scary.
When we heard about the Dublin Science Gallery’s “Seeing” exhibition we immediately thought about doing something with Daniel. (The Science Gallery runs themed exhibitions three or so times a year and issues world-wide calls for ideas for a range of individual installations within them).
So we emailed Daniel and he emailed us straight back and said why not? And he added that he'd be visiting Wellington in April. We’d had a few ideas about how to make an echolocation interactive work. At first we were thinking about something high tech, but when we looked at Daniel’s TED Talk we realised it could actually be better quite the opposite. And under his guidance we continued in that direction and ended up with a very simple installation in which visitors collaborate to have a go at detecting objects using only the reflected sound of their own voice. “Seeing” opened on June 23 and we’re delighted to hear that our little exhibit, with its combination of physical interactivity and personal narrative is hitting the spot with visitors.
We had Daniel as a house guest when he was in Wellington. It turns out he is not at all scary but very charming. It was inspiring for the whole family to have him around. What he can do – sight without light, seeing without eyes – is extraordinary enough but he himself and the way he lives his life is even more extraordinary.
SEEING: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT runs at Science Gallery Dublin from 24 June - 25 September 2016.