A Guiding Dilemma

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact

460 Downloads (Pure)


Touchtone test piece is an exploratory art project based around climbing with a blind person. Several artworks under the headings Echo Valley and A Guiding Dilemma were made through this activity. “I have no sight at all - so I didn't have any fear climbing – it probably helps not to have any idea of what 20metres looks like from above. As long as it feels safe I enjoy the climbing and I don't have any fear - it doesn't come into my mind. The only time I'm scared of heights is in my dreams.” Over the last fifteen years Dan Shipsides has developed an art practice which uses climbing to think creatively about the spaces around us - in particular landscape spaces and ideas about what landscape is or could be. Over the last few years he's been taking John, a blind man from Derry , climbing regularly. This activity has been aimed at thinking how to capture or describe something of this landscape experience. One approach to achieve this was by attaching tiny micro cameras to John's fingers, backpack and feet in order to record “finger tip” footage of his climbing. The cameras used were a mixture of low to mid grade monochromatic and colour lenses depending on encumbrance in terms of where they are placed. This produced an interesting grade range of video footage - some clear and wide framed and some close-up and abstracted by varying light levels. The approach is based on the idea that, whilst sight is crucial to making it easier, climbing isn't primarily about sight. It's as much about movement and physicality. Landscape as a cultural idea is very visually based. This project set out to conceive of a visual landscape which avoids some of the organizing principals of sight and to seek to visualize a tactile relationship between the body and its environment. Echo Valley is a multi screen video installation which presents John climbing Little Bootie (Grade S / 4). It screens in real time (32mins long) and contains close-up otherworldly footage from John's fingers and feet - seeking out holds as well as wider footage from cameras on his backpack giving a sense of the body's vertical height, balance and movement. A Guiding Dilemma consists of video works, text and photography which include the wider aspects of the activity; conversations and the fun, human stuff
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast - Orchid Studios
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 17 May 2008

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Exhibited at:
Void Gallery, Derry
Golden Thread Gallery Belfast
Gimpel Fils Gallery, London

Featured in AHRC case studies landscape & Environment

Featured in Summit magazine
Outputmediatype: 1 DVD Video and 5 text


Dive into the research topics of 'A Guiding Dilemma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this