The Oregon Project

An interactive experience of artwork augmented with sound that allows one to “hear” a large format drawing. 

The Oregon Project is an installation by Artists Keith Salmon, Daniel Thornton, Graham Byron, and Microsoft Researcher Neel Joshi.  It provides alternative insight and exploration of a landscape for those with limited sight and is centered around three new large format, abstract landscape drawings of the Oregon wilderness.   This project builds on the research done at Microsoft by Kyle Rector, Neel Joshi, and Meredith Ringel Morris that addresses the challenges of visual arts access for people with visual impairments.

Exhibited: October 2016 at 9 evenings 2 in Seattle

Keith Salmon is a critically acclaimed Scottish Landscape painter with a significant visual impairment. Salmon draws inspiration from hiking through the iconic Scottish landscape, capturing in memory the qualities of light, shape and color that his eyes allow him to see. His painted depictions of the wild Scottish landscape are fantastically atmospheric abstractions of shape, line and color that defy traditional definitions landscape painting. Undaunted by his declining vision, Salmon began exploring sound as another medium where he can work, building a catalog of audio files on his travels around Scotland.

In the Summer of 2015, Microsoft Research Intern Kyle Rector and Researchers Neel Joshi and Meredith Ringel Morris created a prototype system to address the challenges of visual arts access for people with visual impairments.  The system aids interpretation of visual art through movement and proximity – allowing viewers who are visually impaired to “hear” a painting.  In partnership with Seattle filmmaker Dan Thornton and Microsoft Research, Salmon is using this platform to create this new installation.

This work is supported by the Microsoft Corporation in collaboration with the Josephy Center of Arts and Culture in Oregon.  At the Josephy Center this past summer, Salmon created his first American landscape exploration: a series of large format drawings and recordings that form the basis of this work at 9e2.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

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Keith Salmon

Keith is a professional artist who has also been visually impaired for the last 25 years. Born in Essex in 1959 Keith moved with his family to Wales in the late 60’s.  He studied Fine Art at Shrewsbury and Falmouth Schools of Art between 1979 and 1983, before setting up a studio in Newcastle upon Tyne.  In 1989 he moved back to Wales to join his partner Anita and together they set up a new studio.  Around this time Keith’s sight deteriorated very quickly and within a few years he had to stop exhibiting work and instead try to find new ways of painting using the very limited sight he had.

They moved to Ayrshire in Scotland in 1998 and although Keith was by this time registered as blind, he had enough confidence in the new paintings and drawings to once again start exhibiting them.  He now works professionally from his studio at Courtyard Studios in Irvine, exhibits his work widely again and won the prestigious Jolomo Award 2009 for Scottish landscape painting.

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Neel Joshi

Neel is a Researcher who works in computer vision, computer graphics, and human-computer interaction, focusing particularly on imaging, computational photography, and creative tools for visual arts.  Neel holds an Sc.B. from Brown University, an M.S. from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from U.C. San Diego all in Computer Science. He has held internships at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs, Adobe Systems, and Microsoft Research, was a visiting professor at the University of Washington, and has been at Microsoft Research since 2008.

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Dan Thornton

Dan is an Emmy Award nominated filmmaker, photographer and educator based in Seattle. Dan has been working with Keith Salmon over the last three years on a documentary about Keith’s life and work. Dan sees this latest collaboration with Keith as a valuable extension of research he is doing on aesthetics, visual impairment and cinema. Dan and Keith met while Dan was a Keaseby Memorial Foundation Scholar at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

 

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Graham Byron

Graham is a sound engineer based in Scotland.