32 pigeons, installations.

As Master Students in Inclusive Design, we use art, performance and technology to reframe disability as a condition rather than a trait. With this and our other projects we attempt to create the following points.

  1. The possibility of experiencing the mismatch between a user and their need and ability to participate in an experience.
  2. The opportunity to think differently about the space in between knowing and not knowing.
  3. An interruption in what is perceived as normality in a world dominated by the common senses of sight and hearing and the English language.
  4. The chance to explore our expectations of language in spaces, and to interrupt those expectations with curiosity followed by the frustration of not understanding and landing in the relief or discomfort of finding or not finding meaning.
  5. To ponder the idea of access not just as it pertaining to built environments but as a philosophy of inclusion.

Blind Reading

In front of you is a set of blinds mounted on a wooden frame inset in the window. The blinds go up and down slowly, pausing in between the moves as if taking a breath while saying something…Listen to the motor as it whirrs when moving the blind up or down. It may sound smooth or it may be sputtering a bit from being tired or a bit off balance. Mark the silence when it stops in between each move.

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This installation was originally installed at 205 Richmond, at the “Distributed Collaborative Laboratory” at the Inclusive Design Research Centre, a classroom and meeting place for Inclusive Design students. Reinterpreting one of its windows as a “covert channel” for communication, the installation takes the message “We are all in this together,” deconstructs it into a stream of zeroes and ones, and sends it through the blinds.

Simpson’s Mandarin

This is a true story about how a well-known American animated sitcom, The Simpsons, helped Qi learn English and to learn some of the ways people live in North America. In China one can learn writing, reading and listening in formal classroom settings with Chinese English teachers, but The Simpsons helped Qi learn how to speak English. By listening to the English spoken and reading both the English and Mandarin captions, Qi was able to match written words with tone and mood to make sense of slang in realistic situations.

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Hearing the slang was particularly helpful because when you look up slang in a dictionary it doesn’t tell you what situations are appropriate for it. The captions also helped Qi learn more words and casual grammar because he could pause at anytime to look things up. Qi also found out that he likes American Humor more than Chinese humor.

What we (32 Pigeons) have done with this installation is to reverse Qi’s learning experience by choosing clips from original Simpson’s episodes and dubbing them into Mandarin Chinese. Then we captioned the clips in Chinese and English. In this way, as an English speaker, you can experience Qi’s learning progress. By watching and listening to The Simpsons in Mandarin and reading captions in both English and Mandarin, you can understand mood and tone in the conversations and learn slangs in these “realistic” scenarios. We hope Simpsons Mandarin helps to make learning Mandarin a fun experience.

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