Artist Carmen Papalia has performed “Blind Field Shuttle” in cities across North America. In it, he leads a conga line of people on a walk, everyone clutching the arm of the person in front. When Papalia organizes these walks, he seeks landmarks as points of orientation. But these aren’t landmarks the average person might think of — like a statue or a street crossing, they are taken from the way things sound. The artist, and those on the tour, respond to a “variation in soundscape, objects that we might be able to use in order to ground our experience,” says Papalia.
The Vancouver artist is blind. He began losing his sight about a decade ago, at the age of 21 and since then, he’s regularly made works that deal with blindness. Last month, he led non-visual tours of the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York. In June, he did a piece at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, where he was guided around downtown by a marching band. And recently, he led a tour to the L.A. County Museum of Art, where he ends the walk at Chris Burden’s lamp post installation. Listen to what it was like to be on the tour here: