A few months ago I began a project called Braille Street Art. A friend of mine does sticker art, and I had the idea to roll one up in a braille writer. The blind don’t usually have access to this form of art. For whatever reason, sighted people have also really begun to enjoy it as well. We had a booth at the Philly Tech Week signature event. Now, Geekadelphia has just nominated me for Visual Artist of the Year at the Philly Geek Awards. What irony! I must now accept the fact that I have become an artist.
When I first started this project, I just sort of went with it. I had a fun idea and it seemed to work. Having a partner with similar political and spiritual views also helped. At first we started out doing political slogans such as “Buy silver. Crash J.P. Morgan!” and “Aaron Swartz died for you!” We also did some animal rights ones such as “Love cats. Always adopt.” As I began to get the feel of things I started wanting to expand into more artistic realms. At the Philly Tech Week event I did one that said “e=mc^2”. I really liked the direction we had started going.
For a while I forgot about braille street art, though we both fully intended to do more. Then one day last week I woke up to a Twitter mention on my iPhone congratulating me for my nomination. I checked my email and sure enough, I got an email from the Philly Geek Awards team. They had nominated me, a blind person, for visual artist of the year! The irony overtook me, and I began to laugh and laugh. I posted on Twitter that if I won it would make me laugh for a year and I meant it. It would also speak to the diversity and accessibility of the awesome Philly art/tech scene. I didn’t even consider myself an artist. I just stuck a label in a braille writer.
I knew I had to make some more stickers. I recently reread Illuminatus!, one of my favorite books. I also read the Principia Discordia, the scripture of the Discordians. These gave me a lot of great ideas. The subversive nature of street art appeals to my Discordian side. I love having the ability to confront someone with a message in an unexpected way.
And with that I made some of my new batch. “Illuminate the opposition!” “The only solution is a yin revolution.” “Freedom defined is freedom denied.” “Omnia quia sunt lumina sunt.” (All things that are are lights.) I also made a few favorite including love cats, Aaron Swartz, and Protect Snowden.
I blessed the stickers and counted them. I came up with twenty-two. Discordians consider twenty-three a sacred number. I knew I had to make one more, a very special one. I also had a strange feeling that I would have some sort of realization with it.
But what to write? I settled on “The Goddess Prevails!” a standard Discordian exclamation. I then thought about the symbols. Normally on the bottom of each sticker I put my symbol, as well as The Cat Ears for my partner. When we started out I had no idea what symbol to use, so we looked at the glyph for my Mayan birthday. We used the number eight, which in the Mayan numeral system looks like a line with three dots over it. That worked well enough and I didn’t give it any more thought, until now.
The Discordians have a symbol called the Five-Fingered Hand of Eris, which consists of two arrows converging onto a common point. I realized I should put this symbol on the bottom of this special 23rd card. Then I realized that I should also use it as my own symbol. This batch of twenty-three cards served as the final steps in a birthing process. At the end I had my symbol and with it a realization. I have become an artist.
But what next? I enjoy doing street art, but it has its own set of limitations. I want to do something big. Really big! I have no idea what, some Goddess-inspired weirdness no doubt. Now that I consider myself an artist I have already bung having some very strange ideas. Stay tuned. And send good vibes to help me win the award for visual artist of the year. I heard last year they gave away a 3-D printed robot. That sounds cool!