Losing His Sight, This Photographer Chases the Light


– Light is very powerful for me. Yet, it’s also something that
I’m desperate to hold onto. It’s going, ya know, the
lights are going out. So I’m struggling to hold onto the light. I was in art school in ’79,
and the eye doctor said, “Mr. Erra, you have an eye disease. “You will be blind in 20 years.” And I said, “what?” You’re telling me this bad news, I’m gonna make the best
art I can ever make. God dammit, you know, I’m gonna do it. I see very bright lights, and
I can’t see dim light at all. I’ve never seen a star in my whole life. For example, I was looking at
that view towards Manhattan. What I see is a very small area, maybe about half the size of my thumb, and all around that it’s not black, it’s not white, it’s not
grey, it just doesn’t exist. That’s how I see everything
else is just nonexistence. There are a number of visually
impaired visual artists now and we do have a facet in the art world. (mystical upbeat music plays) Light painting is a process
where you use your mind as much as your eyes. It’s very long time exposure made in a darkened room with a flashlight. The person will be there and
I will turn off the lights, and wherever I don’t
paint with the flashlight, it’ll be black in the picture. The fear I have about
blindness is very strong. It’s the feeling that my life will not be
worthwhile if I can’t see. But, as a totally blind person, I will still be able to
do the light painting. So, it is a comfort to know
that my work is strong, uh, even though maybe in the future
I won’t be able to see it.

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