John Kennedy - The Construction of Visuality

Manifesta 8


Esref, from Ankara, never had eyes but he makes pictures. Using raised lines he sketches in outline, he draws scenes in perspective, and invents picture metaphors. To understand Esref, I believe we need to reconstruct art history. The new history will include the resources of touch as well as vision. 

Psychologist John Kennedy is a professor of Perception and Cognition Psychology at the University of Toronto. He has widely researched on the field of blind people's perception and he was invited by CPS Chamber of Public Secrets to Manifesta8 together with Esref Armagan - an artist born totally blind - whose drawing extraordinary skills require to be framed in a new history of art which include both vision and touch as tools of perception. 

Esref can draw scenes in perspective, he understands intuitively, as the sighted do, that geometrical method of representation that was born as a cultural conquest in the XV century, he invents picture metaphors and as Kennedy says he is the swallow that tells us about the summer, in terms of how the blinds can and need both to draw and to have access to art.

We met Kennedy in Murcia and recapitulating Armagan's achievments we tried to reframe the history of art since the cave paintings to Renaissance, from the avangardes of the XX century - cubism and futurism above all - to the contemporary art production. Armagan is aware of all these elements: perspective, metaphors, dynamism, speed and he can put them on picture. This surprises you? Kennedy will answer to all your doubts. 

The music that goes with the interview is a selection of songs out of Remembering by Vain Foam - downloadable at - and 4 Minutes for the New Year (With PeerGynt LoboGris) by Jaime Heras, out of the album Bright Lights Under Grey Days, available at

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