I like good stories

30 December 2021

How do you view an image when you can't see anything? How do you take in a painting when you can't use your eyes? In the podcast De Beeldspieker, podcast maker Ferry Molenaar answers these and other questions about non-visual viewing of art. Ferry, who is completely blind himself, visits various museums in The Hague in this podcast and takes you on an auditory tour, in which he goes in search of the story behind the various art objects. Due to his visual impairment, he asks different questions than most museum visitors would probably ask. The first season of De Beeldspeaker has just been published and has 24 episodes. We spoke to Ferry about the origin of the podcast, its purpose and what the second season will look like.

How did you come up with the idea for De Beeldspieker?

It wasn't so much my idea, but Eveline's from Scribit Pro. She knew me from a previous assignment and was eager to hire me to create this podcast. At the time, I was about to start my freelance career, because I lost my job as a podcast maker at KRO-NCRV due to a reorganization.

Were you immediately excited for this podcast?

Well, in the beginning I thought art and culture was kind of boring. But the question I asked myself afterwards was: how come? Is it because I am limited in my knowledge? So I decided to do it and I must say that I was never bored during the shooting and editing. I'm starting to appreciate art more and more, because I'm beginning to understand it.

How would you describe the podcast in one sentence?

A podcast where I, as a presenter, try to discover the deeper meaning behind something visual, by asking questions that someone who sees fully would not easily ask.

Why should people listen to De Beeldspieker?

With De Beeldspeaker we try to show that if you are not able to absorb visual art, you can still enjoy art, but in a different way. You ask different questions because your frame of reference is different. The Image Speaker is in any case very interesting for people who are interested in art and culture. Even if you are curious about how someone who does not see experiences art, you have come to the right place with this podcast.

Which episode did you enjoy making the most and why?

That of De Dokwerker, because curator Dick van Broekhuizen of the Beelden aan Zee museum, whom I interviewed for that story, was super enthusiastic, had a lot to tell and I easily went along with his story. With art we are very inclined to keep our distance from it: you are not allowed to touch it. This is of course also the case with an image, but an image has several sides and therefore also several stories. You can walk around it, so it's not just made for front view. That became extra clear to me at De Dokwerker and that was a real eye-opener for me.

De Beeldspieker is offered as the most accessible podcast, why?

Scribit Pro believes it is very important that online media content can be viewed or listened to by everyone. This means that videos must be able to be viewed by people who see little or nothing and podcasts must be able to be listened to by people who hear little or nothing. That's why a transcript and a video with subtitles are created with each episode, so that everyone can follow the content of this series. There has also been experimentation with translating the episode by a sign language interpreter. And of course the content of this podcast is accessible to people who cannot see the art, so that the podcast literally and figuratively meets the need for accessible online media in several areas.

What does the future of De Beeldspieker look like? Will there be a second season?

Certainly, probably already this fall, because we are already busy with it. In season two we will visit seven different castles in Gelderland. We also have an extra addition: we are going to show people with a visual impairment an episode and ask them before and after listening to their image of castles to see if that has changed due to the episode.