Crowd Source Description

Making Public Art More Accessible

VocalEye’s Crowd-Source project is inspired by the art of slow looking, an essential aspect of the audio description process.

Public art is all around us, but it’s not accessible to everyone. 

“I see everything. Most other people are lazy. They never look at everything. They do what is called “glancing”, which is the same word for bumping off something and carrying on in almost the same direction.”
-Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

A trained audio describer or art curator brings great expertise and understanding, but they are not always available to describe something for us or to provide context. What can we learn from each other about what we see and how we see, what we notice, what we miss and what is meaningful?

No one sees the world the way you do.

This project gathers a wide variety of observers in the common task of describing an artwork for someone who can’t see it. 

Describe what you see and tell us how it makes you feel. 

VocalEye has held 3 Crowd-Sourced Description Projects since the pandemic. The initial pilot was an experiment in replicating the many responses to an artwork that one might hear from a group of visitors in an art gallery. Listening to diverse perspectives can broaden one’s understanding of the art work, providing a layered, multi-faceted experience. 

A total of 35 artworks were included in our first 3 projects (8 paintings and 27 murals).

Number of descriptions: 272

Number of volunteer describers: 86

We are currently working on the next phase of this project to showcase these crowd-sourced descriptions.

We’ve also launched our first satellite crowd source project in partnership with Ithaca Murals in New York. This project deadline has been extended until October 31, 2023 so there’s still time to participate!

Crowder #1

Paintings requested by the blind community (April 2021)

  1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
  2. Cow with Pearl Earring by Caroline Shotton
  3. Canoe Lake by Tom Thomson
  4. Autumn Rhythm by Jackson Pollock
  5. Bear Medicine by Chief Ladybird
  6. Andy Warhol Self-Portrait

We love these descriptions and are enormously grateful to our Crowder participants!

Highlights of descriptions from 4 paintings were presented Almost Live on YouTube

Crowder #2

Paintings by Vincent van Gogh were a popular community request, so we created a special Crowder that coincided with the immersive van Gogh exhibition in Vancouver (June 2021)

  1. Van Gogh Self-Portrait
  2. Starry Night

Huge thanks to our awesome Crowder participants!

Highlights from this Crowder can be found on our YouTube channel

Crowder #3

A selection of 24 murals from the Vancouver Mural Festival!

Launched April 4 to July 31 2022. 

Highlights presented Almost Live with special guest, Adrian Sinclair

A complementary live in-person descriptive tour was held August 13, 2022 with guides Alisdair Butcher from Vancouver DeTours and VocalEye describer, Eileen Barrett, in partnership with the Vancouver Mural Festival.

Crowder #4

Crowd Source: Ithaca Murals is our first Crowd Source Satellite Project!

Presented in partnership with Ithaca Murals, New York.

In progress, Aug 21 to Oct 31, 2023

Live descriptive tours of the murals will be offered in Ithaca in October.

Read more about it, join in and stay tuned for updates!


VocalEye Almost Live #95 – Highlights from 2022’s Crowd-Sourced Description Project | Vancouver Mural Fest

VocalEye Almost Live #42 – Original Crowd-Sourced Description Project

A Guide to Slow Looking

Slow Art Movement

What is Slow Looking and How Can I Get Started?

Slow Art? It will blow your mind

Slow Art in an Age of Speed

Museums Around the World Celebrate “Slow Art Day”