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A digital art exhibit about disability

Tera Kirk's picture

Time lapse sculptural image of Mat Frasier kickboxing (Copyright Simon McKeown).
©Simon McKeown

On January 24, the Wolverhampton Art Gallery will exhibit a "moving digital sculpture" that will examine how disabled people move. The exhibit, created by disabled digital artist Simon McKeown, is called Motion Disabled and uses state-of-the-art digital motion-capture technology to animate five disabled people doing things like walking, using the phone, kickboxing, and chopping vegetables. The actors include web developer Steve Graham, mayor Frank Letch and Mat Fraser, an activist, actor, writer, musician and comedian. (He wrote, composed and starred in Thalidomide!! A Musical and co-hosts the BBC Ouch! Podcast).

While not about gaming per se—I don't know if this project's artist is the same Simon McKeown who worked for Reflections Interactive on Stuntman and the Driver series or not—Motion Disabled uses digital animation to pose some critical questions, as the artist points out: "[D]o we value difference? How do disabled people's bodies fit into current versions of normality? And, is physical disability about to become Virtual?" In an interview with Dr. Paul Darke for the Outside Centre's radio show, he said:

[T]he disabled people I grew up with—the disabled children that I grew up working with—were becoming a rarity, in effect. That the effects of screening at childbirth and the medical intervention if you like...in the future...you won't be able to see how a disabled person walks because they won't be in existence.
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Is Physical Disability about to become virtual...

Disabled children and adults becoming a rarity? I don't think so. Medical science on one hand can be used to screen out unwanted babies and you may choose to call that a form of Eugenics if you like. On the other hand medical science also helps people survive where before they might not.

Until we stop having wars, accidents, aging, illness, etc. and people unable to afford basic medical care - there'll be physically disabled people in the world.

I do like the art. Stuff that makes you think a bit is good by me!

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