Maxime Gourdon: Strabismus as metaphor: visual impairment and unbound gaze for non-normative vision


Advisor/tutor: Rachel O’Reilly

August 2020


This thesis considers a critical take on vision, taking its departure in Arab scholar Ibn Al-Haytham’s studies of the physiognomic binocular gaze, who sought to demonstrate its variability. Through the multiplicities of its embodiment, I intend to question vision as it has been theorized in western science as a unifying model to design a normative look. In trying to develop an alternative model, I take the visual condition of strabismus as a conceptual illustration to question the unicity of our optical device. In taking a closer look to how, when, and by whom our visual apparatus has been crafted; my study will propose with the help of an illustrative metaphor, to unbind binocular vision by way of a détour through the condition of strabismus, to render visible the specificity of issues that arise with and from the normative gaze. I hypothesize that if strabismus is taken as a working model of non-normative vision, it is worthwhile to interrogate the consequences that such shift allows to experience and observe. Through the study of this hypothesis, my thesis will weave together a survey of Arab sciences and its spread into the West, a semantic examination of optics and physics, and an economic critique of nonnormative vision, as a means of ultimately develop an emancipatory model of perception. This research. journey aims to present a study of a fictional model of vision that can make us rethink our normative look and its associated way of being in the world.