Artist will create work out of access stress


A disabled artist is to measure disabled people’s temperature, heart rate and brain waves to assess their stress levels as they encounter public access barriers.

The data gathered – as well as the reactions of non-disabled people making the same journey through a public space – will be shown as a live installation.

Artist Zoe Partington-Sollinger will also use a tiny microphone and camera to record how disabled people feel as they move through the space, while sensors will capture how fast they travel and where they stop on their journey.

The journey will be mapped digitally, with the results projected onto a screen alongside people’s live commentary, and then used to develop a physical installation. 

The data will also be built into the public buildings as patterned surfaces, for example on carpets or vinyl flooring.

Partington-Sollinger said she hoped the work would inspire and persuade designers to think differently about how they design urban spaces.

She added: “Technically they understand but emotionally they do not understand the impact on a disabled person moving through a space, and often create solutions that are aesthetically uninspiring for everyone, or introduce new barriers such as in shared surfaces.”

The work will be installed at Bucks New University in High Wycombe and possibly also at a nearby shopping centre, with results also appearing online.

A trial run is likely in November, with the project set to go live next spring.

The work is one of three new pieces of public art to have secured funding in the lead-up to the 2012 London Paralympics.

Partington-Sollinger, Sarah Scott and Lorna Giezot have been given a total of £55,000 through the Go Public initiative, which aims to produce public art works by disabled artists across the south-east.

The funding was awarded by Dada-South, the disability arts development agency, and the public art charity Artpoint.

Giezot plans to make a weatherproof, transparent door and doorway that will glow with light and feel warm to the touch – in an outdoor setting, probably in Buckinghamshire.

She said: “The ability to look through the sculpture to see what is on the other side breaks down that fear of ‘the unknown’ that is associated with many metaphors, including disability and disabled people.”

Scott, who is also a yoga teacher and chair of Heart n’ Soul Musical Theatre, wants to “explore the impact of outdoor yoga” on disabled participants.

Stevie Rice, director of Dada-South, said: “I have no doubt that the work will engage and challenge audiences’ perceptions and will give a much needed opportunity for disabled and Deaf artists to present their work in the public realm.” 

Go Public is part of Accentuate, a programme of 15 projects that aims to “change perceptions”, showcase the talents of Deaf and disabled people, and “create a cultural legacy” that is “inspired” by the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, Stoke Mandeville.

Accentuate is funded by a number of agencies, including Legacy Trust UK, the charity set up to create a sporting and cultural legacy from London 2012.

26 May 2010


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