Bruce Hall, photo © Christopher Voelker. www.voelkerstudio.com
Bruce Hall is a legally blind photographer, teacher, musician, and autism advocate. He exhibits his photography internationally. Bruce and his wife Valerie are currently collaborating on a large-scale, extremely personal project examining their twin sons' profound autism.
Hall’s work has been published in textbooks, magazines including National Geographic, as well as shown in art exhibitions internationally including: the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian; UCR/California Museum of Photography, Riverside, California; Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City; The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; Photo San Francisco; Photo L.A.; Flacon Arts Complex, Moscow, Russia; Galeria De Arte, Universidad Iberoamericana, Puebla, Mexico; Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado; Playboy Cyber Club; Insights, San Francisco; and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
The Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division recently purchased a portfolio of photographs from Hall’s Autism in Reflection series for their permanent collection. Bruce was recently featured in a short documentary for HBO, Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers. Produced by Corinne Marrinan and directed by sports photography legend Neil Leifer. In 2010, Bruce Hall and Pete Eckert had the opportunity to photograph model Hiromi Oshima for Playboy.
In 1970 Playboy translated the magazine into Braille. Forty years later, Bruce and Pete were the first blind photographers to shoot for Playboy.
Bruce Hall's night sky was devoid of stars, a vast sheet of darkness. Hall was born with a word salad of eye conditions: nystagmus, myopia, astigmatism, amblyopia, macular degeneration and exotropia. "I grew up hearing about stars, but I'd never seen them. When I was nine or ten, a neighbor kid down the street let me look through his telescope. We pointed it at the North Star. It was like an opening into another world." Hall saw not just stars, but possibilities. The childhood glimpse became a turning point, directing Hall into a lifelong engagement with seeing devices: cameras, lenses, magnifiers, telescopes, computer screens.
Since then, Bruce Hall has constructed his world from photographs. When he looks into your eyes, it'll be on his forty-inch Sony high definition monitor. Most photographers see in order to photograph. Bruce Hall photographs in order to see.
Hall is one of four artists in the exhibition who, while legally blind, retain some limited, highly attenuated sight. "I think all photographers take pictures in order to see, but for me it's a necessity. I can't see without optical devices, cameras. Therefore, it's become an obsession. It's beyond being in love with cameras; I need cameras." Susan Sontag called photographs objects "that make up, and thicken, the environment we recognize as modern." By this logic, Hall leads a hypermodern life, employing an ever-present camera to build his visual world one photograph at a time.
Hall calls his device-enabled interface with the world "intensified seeing." The devices are extensions, amplifications of his body. "Without cameras, my life would be bleak. With cameras, I can see." The result is a strange form of double vision. "I always see things twice. First, I see an impression. I take what I think I see, later I can see what I saw. I have certain aims, guesses, impressions, but the photographs are always a surprise."
by Douglas McCulloh, Curator, sight unseen, International Photography by Blind Artists. UCR California Museum of Photography. www.cmp.ucr.edu/exhibitions/sightunseen/
For recent news, upcoming shows and exhibitions click "news and events" link, below.