Piet Devos

writer and literary theorist


Dancing Beyond Sight: How blindness shakes up the senses of dance

Friday 14 September 2018

(Article published in Disability Studies Quarterly, vol. 38 no. 3)


In this essay I argue that blindness offers up a most fruitful perspective through which to rethink the visualist aesthetics of dance. As will become clear from three case studies, both choreographers and performers often draw on blindness's multisensory knowledge and practices as to transform the creation, transmission and reception of contemporary dance. Whether through the auditory exploration of space and presence or the haptic appropriation of another's movement into one's own body, blindness brings along an intensely affective, sensory plenitude to the dance theatre, which is at odds with the formalism and distanced judgment typical of the more conventional, predominantly visual approach to dance. The result of such promising experiments within contemporary dance is the emergence of a more inclusive aesthetics in which the creative potential of sensory differences is no longer suppressed, but ultimately acknowledged.

Key words: blindness; disability aesthetics; sensory studies; contemporary dance; sensory practices (listening/haptics).

Other items related to the theme Research:

Tardy Presents: Embodied agency in the ‘documental’ poetry of Benjamin Péret and Antonio Porchia

24 February 2019
(Article co-authored with Gys-Walt van Egdom, published in Literature as Document. Eds. Sarah Bonciarelli et al. Pp. 133-148) In this paper, we examine an often overlooked literary tradition, which came to see the act of writing as a way of documenting ‘pure’ embodied agency.

Jacques Lusseyran, entre cécité et lumière

04 January 2019
La première étude consacrée à la vie et l’œuvre exceptionnelles de Jacques Lusseyran vient de paraître aux Éditions Rue d’Ulm.

Encuentros con la (a)normalidad: los cuerpos (in)tocables de Pablo Palacio

29 January 2018
(Artículo publicado en Cuerpos ilegales. Ed. Nanne Timmer. Pp. 231-259) Al estudiar la obra de Pablo Palacio, analizo el vínculo estrecho entre el tacto y la constitución normalizadora del sujeto moderno.

Sonic Boundary Objects: Negotiating disability, technology, and simulation

10 November 2016
(Article co-authored with Florian Grond, published in Digital Creativity: health and wellbeing, pp. 1-17) In this article, we discuss the use of binaural sound recordings as a tool to negotiate between blind and sighted experiences of an urban soundscape.

Touched by Surrealism: reflections on a new sensory approach to literature

20 December 2014
(Article published in RELIEF 8.2 2014) In this paper, I discuss a new sensory approach to literature. Literature might be studied in order to trace the perceptual effects of cultural, political and technological transformations.

‘Estamos en el ciclo de los nervios’: las imágenes electrificadas de Huidobro y la reconsideración científica de la visión

01 December 2012
(Ponencia publicada en las Actas del congreso ‘Imágenes y realismos en América Latina’, Universidad de Leiden) En varios manifiestos el vanguardista chileno Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) comparó la imagen poética con una 'chispa' eléctrica y el poema con una batería cargada.