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Artist Modifies A Wheelchair So That It Can Be Used To Scuba Dive Underwater
By Anthea Quay, 30 Aug 2012
UK-based artist Sue Austin has been wheelchair-bound since 1996.
With it having a huge impact on her life, she turned the wheelchair into her muse for her artworks.
“My studio practice has, for sometime, centred around finding ways to understand and represent my embodied experience as a wheelchair user,” she writes, “Opening up profound issues about methods of self-representation and the power of self-narration in challenging the nexus of power and control that created the ‘disabled’ as other.”
For her ongoing ‘Freewheeling’ project, she modified a wheelchair with the help from dive experts so that she could explore the wonders of the ocean without having to leave her wheelchair.
The wheelchair was included with dive thrusters, heel plates as fins, acrylic ‘wings’, control surfaces and flotation aids so that it could be used underwater.
She first had the idea to scuba dive in a wheelchair, after learning how to scuba dive in 2005.
“When we started talking to people about it, engineers were saying it wouldn’t work, the wheelchair would go into a spin, it was not designed to go through water—but I was sure it would,” Austin told BBC.
“If you just put a thruster under the chair all the thrusts is below the center of gravity so you rotate,” she added.
Her underwater wheelchair will be part of her performance piece ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ and a series of videos.
Check out the dream-like video of Austin piloting her underwater wheelchair below:
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