G REG VI VASH
MYOPIC VISIONS © Greg Vivash 2022 www.gregvivash.com
The ability to imagine is common to all humans, yet the visualisations formed remain unique to the individual. Just because we cannot see or we see in blurred fragments, that we are able to imagine, appreciate our surroundings and connect with the full sighted world.
Guadalupe Campos. Blind Photographer, Mexico. from ´Seeing the Imagination’ British Council Unlimited Micro award.
This book is a collection of conceptual photographs based on my experience of growing up with high myopia (very short sight) and other eye disorders which have challenged me along the way. I created these images as a form of abstract expressionism. These are my myopic visions. The way in which I see the world with my eyes in their uncorrected natural state. The images also serve to illustrate how people with high myopia see the world. I use photography as an extension of my vision both metaphorically and
literally because I want to see, what I cannot see. Whilst I have had the benefit of some corrective surgery and aids to help my vision in my later years, I use memories from my earlier life to create images of objects/scenes as I remember them. I do not need to see clearly to appreciate the inherent beauty, colour, tone or shape of the world I see. The work is biographical. It provides an insight into how I have used creativity to overcome an introverted childhood as a result of mocking and bullying. Whilst some of the narrative gives an
indication of the content of each image, I have deliberately left each image untitled. However, for those whose intrigue gets the better of them and prefer explanation, notes at the back of this book, provide clarification. Having coped with visual impairment since childhood, it is somewhat ironic that I chose a visual medium to express my creativity, which I am determined to continue as much as my sight permits.
Greg Vivash 2022
In the innocence of childhood and the pre-occupation and nervousness of starting school, I was unaware I had sight issues until I encountered difficulties in seeing the blackboard. Sitting close to the television should have been some sign of a problem, but maybe this was just seen as enthusiasm for what I was watching. Like many other health conditions, there are numerous ways in which our sight can be affected and unless we are fortunate to have perfect sight, we all see the world very differently.
As a young boy, having thick lens National Health spectacles prescribed to me came with mixed feelings. Fear: Of breaking my spectacles:
How would I cope without them? The cost to my parents.
What people would say, especially other kids.
How would they react?
and as I got older, vanity took over: How do spectacles affect my appearance?
Even with my glasses, it was still tricky to see at times, after all, only so much of my vision could be corrected. My early years were more about adventure and play, but the fear of breaking my glasses never left me. Without them, the world seemed a very different place. Toys and playtime would be very different. The world for the extreme short sighted provides elements of abstractness, a blurring of lines, irregularity of shapes and a collage of colours like that of a well-used artists’ paint palette.
My dad introduced me to his passion of aircraft. Like many young boys, I collected and built numerous Airfix hobby kits. A combination of my childish impatience to hurry the task and my poor vision, led to many mistakes in assembling the aircraft. My dad would often be eager to take over to ensure they were completed exactly as he thought they should be. The small parts on my train sets and Scalextric were also visually challenging. My dads help was useful, but also a way of getting him to play along with me.
A visit to the local sweet shop was often made on the way home from school, but not without its challenges. Many less understanding school kids would stop me and ask about my thick glasses. “Can I have a look through them?”, “How do you see through those things” were the most common inane questions. The more inquisitive kids would ask me; “How many fingers am I holding up?” in a bid to get some idea of how well I could see. Naturally, the wrong answer, was met with great hilarity and laughter.
Long Summer holidays were an escape from the jibes of classmates. Time spent at a caravan on the south coast of England. A time for play and exploration. The shingle beaches, traditional deckchairs and funfairs were places where I felt less vulnerable. I was well away from anyone who knew me in my hometown. The usual suspects of mockery and bullying were not around.
I was free.
The hot summer of 1976.
Taken on a Polaroid, my very first camera. My dad proudly standing by his Austin Cambridge car wearing his 25 year company service watch, The watch that I still possess today, became mine when I reached the age of 21.
The joy of instant photography captivated me. The simplicity of not having to focus the image was also an advantage. It was my prized possession. I guess it was also my superpower, because it was something I started to enjoy and have some control over. I was far more comfortable with creative subjects at school and I was often considered a last choice by teachers and other kids for sports activities. My camera was a new way of expressing myself and an opportunity to show I could achieve something.
More grown up games on caravan holidays made me feel more included with the adults. Cards, Dominoes. Simple but pleasurable family times.
My interests in teenage years were typical of many boys. A pocket knife, gadgets of the 70s & 80s, Digital watches, Cassette Walkman. The innocence of my junior years had left me only to be taken over by the emotions of growing up. My sight affected my confidence. I avoided many physical activities for fear of making my sight worse, I became overweight, which only added to my insecurity. I felt isolated and excluded from society. I often went to my bedroom and listened to music and read about gadgets and photography. Anxious feelings grew, which led to bouts of depression. Little did I realise that having sight problems could be instrumental to how I felt about life. There is no doubt in my mind, that they did for many years and still do to this day.
Career choices were a tricky affair. Photography quickly became my passion. Ideas of following my dads footsteps in the RAF were thwarted due to sight problems and failing the entry physical. I trained as a commercial photographer. It seems quite bizarre that I chose a career where sight is the dominant sense required. There have been challenges along the way, mainly from a technical standpoint. Technology has very much helped in this regard. Photography is a form of therapy and escapism for me. To escape anxiety. To give me a sense of being and purpose.
As I got older, I tried a variety of combinations of specialist contact lenses and glasses, this was a practical decision due to concerns of vanity of wearing very thick lenses. I was at that point of being more conscious about what the people thought of me and how it might affect dating. My first thick contact lenses were not healthy for my eyes, due to poor oxygen transmission. A solution at the time was to reduce the prescription in the contact lenses and wear spectacles over the top. Not ideal but the best compromise and the very thick concave lenses had gone!
My sight compromised. The mundane tasks became more challenging and even more laborious to undertake. I have often photographed objects that we take granted, the mundane things that we use daily. My Myopic Vision sees things very differently. Objects take on a painterly appearance. A different form or shape. Muted or diffused, like water colours.
In many respects, I am lucky to have some of my vision corrected with visual aids and surgery. I haven’t forgotten what my world without these aids looks like. In more recent years I have suffered more trauma to my left eye with retinal bleeds, distorting my vision permanently.
I have been told with age, to expect further deterioration of my sight.
Whether it’s making more photographs, making a cup of tea, appreciating the colours of nature, having a night out, I will continue to enjoy the best I have with my corrected vision, with the possibility that one day, I may return to my: ‘Myopic Visions’
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5 Spectacles 6 Blowing soap bubbles 8 Wax crayons 9 Ker-Plunk game 11 Tiddly Winks game 12 Rubik’s Cube 15 Airfix aircraft parts on moulding frame 16/17 Train set 18/19 My old sweet shop 21 Hands. ‘How many fingers can you see’ 22 Beach, Sea, Sky 25 Seashells 26/27 Four folding beach chairs on pebble beach, Brighton 29 Carousel horse 30 Polaroid of my father by holiday caravan 33 My father’s company service watch 35 Playing cards 37 Dominoes game
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39 Penknife 40 My first Sony Walkman 41 Radio 42 ‘Trim’ phone 43 Digital clock 45 Camera 46/47 Roll of 35mm film 48 Rows of 35mm Film transparencies on lightbox 51 Wedding rings 52 Front door 55 Daisy, our cat 56 Cutlery 59 Bananas 60 Weetabix cereal box 61 Heinz Tomato soup 63 Flowers in vase 65 Tea bag 67 Cocktail
Long Summer holidays were an escape from the jibes of classmates. Time spent at a caravan on the south coast of England. A time for play and exploration. The shingle beaches, traditional deckchairs and funfairs were places where I felt less vulnerable. I was well away from anyone who knew me in my hometown. The usual suspects of mockery and bullying were not around. I was free.
MYOPIC VISIONS Greg Vivash 2022