Alt-Text “Potluck”: A website and workbook launch for Alt Text as Poetry

Join us on Thursday, December 3rd, as we celebrate the launch of a new website and workbook for Alt Text as Poetry, a multi-year exploration of the poetic potential of image description by Bojana Coklyat and Eyebeam alum Shannon Finnegan. The launch will feature the project in new forms including a website by collaborators Laurel Schwulst and Taichi Wi (Abundant Blue), a hard-copy-version designed by Lexi Visco and Calvin Rocchio (Companion–Platform), and will be marked by a newly commissioned composition by JJJJJerome Ellis.

Thursday, December 3rd, 4:00 to 5:30 pm EST, via Zoom
ASL interpretation available
Live captioning available

In the spirit of access that is nourishing and shared in community, we invite attendees to bring a favorite piece of alt-text or image description to the event as their contribution to the “potluck.” We’ll read some of these aloud at the event and savor them together.

What is alt-text?
Alt-text is a written description of a digital image. It is a form of access to visual content for people who are blind, low vision, or have certain cognitive disabilities. Alt-text is a type of “hard-coded” metadata associated with an image that exists as HTML. It is most often included in an alt-text field when uploading an image, for example, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or a personal or business website. Alt-text can also be added to documents, PDFs, and Power Points.
— Adapted from this blog post by Rooted in Rights

Access information:
The event will take place on Zoom with live-captioning and ASL interpretation. We’ll be sharing some images of the website and workbook — all images will be described. Anything shared in the chat will be read aloud. If you have access questions or requests, contact J. Soto prior to the event via email at [email protected]. RSVPs will close 30 minutes prior to the start of the event. This event will be recorded.

Pre-order the Workbook:
To pre-order the hard copy of the workbook, use this Google form. If Google forms, aren’t accessible for you, email [email protected] to place your pre-order.

Shannon Finnegan is an interdisciplinary artist. Some of their recent work includes Anti-Stairs Club Lounge, an ongoing project that gathers people together who share an aversion to stairs; Alt-Text as Poetry, a collaboration with Bojana Coklyat that explores the expressive potential of alt-text; and Do You Want Us Here or Not, a series of benches designed for exhibition spaces. Their work has been supported by a 2018 Wynn Newhouse Award, a 2019 residency at Eyebeam, and a 2020 grant from Art Matters Foundation.

Bojana Coklyat is a disabled visual artist, activist and art access consultant. Her interest in creative forms of access led her to Alt-Text as Poetry, a collaboration with Shannon Finnegan. Coklyat researched access in cultural institutions as part of her 2019-2020 Fulbright grant in the Czech Republic. She has continued similar work as the Project Leader for the Mapping Virtual Access in Cultrual Institutions project at the Museum Art and Culture Access Consortium (MAC). Over the past several months, on behalf of MAC, Coklyat has been documenting approaches to access in NYC area cultural institutions during the pandemic.

Companion–Platform is the design practice of Lexi Visco and Calvin Rocchio. We make things in close collaboration with the environments and communities we live within, believing that nothing emerges isolated from an ecosystem, and that the background is as much the foreground when introducing something new to a landscape; be it a book, a website, a garden, or a workshop. We practice maintenance as much as we maintain this practice, and feel that each idea is able to mature with continued care.

Abundant Blue is a new space for Laurel & Taichi’s practice that evolved from creating websites for Artists Space and this one, Alt-Text as Poetry.

Laurel Schwulst is an artist, educator, and writer. She is recognized for her internet art, her interactive design work, her websites, her writing about the internet, and her innovative teaching methods.

Taichi Wi is a designer and programmer. Presently, he is in his first semester of graduate school, pursuing Masters degrees in architecture and landscape architecture.

JJJJJerome Ellis is a stuttering, Afro-Caribbean composer, performer, and writer. His current practice explores blackness, music, and disabled speech as forces of refusal and healing.