I recently visited Penshurst Place in Kent. The historical site includes a Great Hall first built in the 1350s as well as a range of gardens and a mostly inaccessible larger grand building. My assumption when visiting such places is that they will not be accessible to me and that I will need to look for signs denoting the places I can access and how to do so. It was with this in mind that I shot the set of photos below. Each photo bar one includes a visual reference to disability. Can you see it?
This first photo has a rather obvious trigger – the wheelchair user.
This second image includes a small white sign at the bottom centre of the frame that states “Wheelchairs only”. He it is again below but shown with more emphasis.
This third photo includes a small wooden ramp at the doorway.
This last image include no obvious reference to disability. It is only by its association with the other images in the set that the subject is triggered.
I think this exercise raises interesting issues regarding meaning and how it is evoked. Sometimes the subject matter does the evocation but its also true that meaning is evokes as much through the space between the images as from within the images themselves. Maybe this is why the diptychs and triptychs work well.
If any of the images in this post were to be shown singly then they would rely on the viewer to pick out the disability association and this my not happen. Accordingly I might explore injecting different triggers into some images. Maybe this is where I should go next – looking at general landscape images of public spaces and working out how to inject a disability trigger into them in order to evoke that perspective with the viewer, without resorting to the inclusion of an disabled person in the frame.