Vision without Sight
January 31, 2005 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Esref Armagan is an accomplished painter, and has been blind since infancy. Brain scans show he uses his visual cortex while drawing, but not while imagining an image (as a sighted person does.)
posted by Zed_Lopez (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Note to self: strike "A blind person could draw better than that" from my vocabulary.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:26 AM on January 31, 2005

This is really interesting! With paintings like this, I start to picture the guy getting out there and touching everything-- something I'd never pictured a painter doing. This stuff also reminds me of Chagall, as does the sense that there's a lot of "oral history" in his paintings. Talking about how things look is important to him, I'll bet.
posted by koeselitz at 9:57 AM on January 31, 2005

The amount of details in his paintings in incredible. I'm known as the family artist only because I can wield a pencil with some skill, but looking at this one makes me wonder if I would have remembered that a watermelon has a white area between the pink and the green. Amazing stuff, really.
posted by chickygrrl at 10:00 AM on January 31, 2005

Wow. That's pretty neat. What's going on here? I get how he can paint a fish, but some of the other stuff, and especially anything with any perspective is just pretty amazing
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 10:03 AM on January 31, 2005

crazy. Does someone help him pick out the colors? I suppose, in theory, a blind person could learn everything you need to know about perspective, etc, by using his fingers and feeling the location of lines.
posted by delmoi at 10:08 AM on January 31, 2005

wow. i was wondering the same thing, delmoi. great find, zed.
posted by blendor at 10:13 AM on January 31, 2005

Fascinating. I noticed a couple of red skies - not wrong, just interesting - he obviously knows what colors go where, but I'd really like to know how and why he picks them... His brain doesn't seem to care that his eyes don't see it; he "sees" it just fine. Awesome.
posted by hypersloth at 10:24 AM on January 31, 2005

The New Scientist link describes that he learned his colors, and more, by rote:
So, we ask, how do you know how long these poles should be as they recede? I was taught, he says. Not by any formal teacher, but by casual comments by friends and acquaintances. How do you know about shadows? He learned that too. He confides that for a long time he figured that if an object was red, its shadow would be red too. "But I was told it wasn't," he says. But how do you know about red? He knows that there's an important visual quality to seen objects called "colour" and that it varies from object to object. He's memorised what has what colour and even which ones clash.
Speaking of that article, I tried to find links showing how a Sewell Raised Line Drawing Kit worked, but while I could find plenty of references to them, and even a couple of pictures, I didn't find anything that actually describes one's use in any detail. Is anyone familiar with one of these?
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:39 AM on January 31, 2005

Wow. Loved this one.
posted by orange swan at 11:11 AM on January 31, 2005

Zed_Lopez: Pictures of people using a Sewell Raised Line Drawing kit This maybe be more of what you are looking for. Also has a number of other really cool adaptive learning tools like the physical graph paper for plotting coordinates.
posted by Freen at 11:20 AM on January 31, 2005

I blogged about this guy just the other day, after seeing a post on viewropa. The most amazing one for me is this one - which appears to have depth of field going on, something that intuitively seems even harder than perspective.
posted by pascal at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2005

I received this email today:
Hi Zed - I am Esref's manager and have worked next to him for more than 10 years. I have witnessed him doing just all of the various types of painting that he does. To answer about Sewell - it makes raised lines (actually on both sides of the paper which is normal printing or typing paper). Esref draws with his right hand while following with his left hand. Sometimes when he is demonstrating, I lift up his left hand and announce "Now he is truly blind." He must follow with his left hand in order to know where he is. Happy to answer more questions - by the way - I don't even know what "blog" means. Glad you are so interested! Joan
I guess Joan googles on Esref's behalf.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:50 AM on February 4, 2005

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