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Posts Tagged ‘underestimate’

unseen_coverart_final-720x908

Art: Thomas Rodgers
The cover art for Chad Allen’s audio comic,
Unseen, is the only visual feature. The comic was designed for the blind.

Hooray for people who recognize a need and do something about it. In this story, a man who is blind devised a way for other blind people to enjoy an art form usually closed to them.

Jessica Gelt writes at the Los Angeles Times, “Chad Allen was feeling helpless. Not because he happened to be blind. He had a healthy handle on that part of his life. It was the insanely dark news cycle that was dragging him down. The sense that the world was falling apart and he could do nothing about it.

“Mounting anxiety before the 2016 presidential election propelled him to do what he does best: tell stories. He created an audio comic book titled ‘Unseen,’ featuring a blind heroine, an assassin from Afghanistan named Afsana. It is believed to be one of the first audio comic books by a blind author, made for a blind audience.

“Working in a highly visual art form, Allen managed to create an auditory experience that closely mimics the sensation of reading a comic book. A whooshing sound occurs whenever a panel changes; the intentionally stilted delivery of lines, as well as narration that prompts mental images, conjure a feeling of being inside a high-stakes comic book world. Aside from a slick red-and-black graphic image of Afsana created for the cover, ‘Unseen’ has no visual art whatsoever. …

“ ‘Chad’s character is written for a blind audience, but all of us can identify with her because we can identify with the experience of being underestimated,’ says Melissa Alexander, the director of public programs at the Exploratorium [museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco]. …

“The sense among marginalized groups — people of color, women, LGBTQ people and others — that they have been underestimated has made ‘Unseen’ a popular part of the exhibit. …

“Allen is thrilled to have his work included in ‘Self, Made’ because it validates one of his main objectives in writing ‘Unseen.’

‘You don’t see art with your eyes. You don’t see anything with your eyes. All your eyes do is filter light. You see with your brain, and that’s what I’m trying to teach to people more than anything,’ Allen says. …

“Afsana does not have superpowers like Marvel’s Daredevil. She has a skill. Her skill is to slip in and out of places without being seen. She is not seen because people with disabilities are often not seen. They can feel invisible to society at large, Allen says. …

“The catchphrase for the comic is, ‘Discounting her abilities is her enemies’ gravest mistake.’

“The first installment of Afsana’s journey, which is available for streaming at unseencomic.com, finds her at the American border with Mexico in a not-so-distant future, when a dictatorial president is rounding up immigrants and conducting scientific experiments on disabled people with some very spooky results. …

“Allen, 46, grew up loving comic books. … He was not born blind. He was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder that causes vision loss, at the age of 15, around the time his parents were divorcing. His world was thrown into turmoil in a way his fragile teen psyche had trouble processing. …

“Twenty years later, Allen is sitting at his dining room table in front of a small Braille keyboard attached to an iPhone that reads emails, books and writing back to him at breakneck speed. It is hard to imagine a time when he lacked confidence in the world. …

“Of all the questions lobbed his way, Allen says one of the most obvious and compelling is often asked by his son’s friends: How do you see in your head? His reply is beautiful in its simplicity.

“ ‘I say to them, “Do you go to bed at night? When you sleep do you dream? When you dream do you see places? Do you see people that you know? Do you see your family and friends?” ‘

“When they answer in the affirmative, he asks, ‘Are your eyes open?’

“They shake their heads.

“ ‘Well, that’s how I see you.’ ”

More here.

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