This year we have been collaborating with Joanne Cox as part of a team of artists, producers, and access specialists, to produce a set of interactive video pages, including a small selection of virtual instruments. Please watch the video below to learn more, and try the instrument out for yourself.


Play the instrument here:

Fill out the feedback form here: DYJ feedback form (please let us know if this form is not accessible to you)

Blurring the Boundaries Arts were recently involved in an access review for the Gamelan Room website created by UK organisation Good Vibrations.

During this project, we worked with consultant Jason Dasent to review screen reader access for the web app, as well as a general introduction for screen reader users. This gave us an opportunity to continue research we have been conducting for CAMIN on hosting online sessions, including meetups and hackathons.

This is the first video created by Jason:

This is a preview of our new podcast, in which we speak with people who are blurring the boundaries between the roles of artists, makers, musicians, dancers, coders…

In this part of the conversation, we got into some of the reasons Joanne had chosen to feature bed bugs in her pieces…and this led to some insight into challenges facing Disabled people in Britain at the moment.

? Show transcript


Jo: The bedbugs, they symbolise anything that represses people, and that people have to fight against.

Things that drain you because they literally suck your blood.


So anything that drains you of life, that’s what the bedbugs represent.


And in this story, for Disabled people in the UK, there’s assessments by the Department of Work and Pensions for welfare benefits.


And they’re handed over to private medical companies that … er … have lost their moral compass [laughs].

And it’s a lot about profiteering.


And the assessments, they’re not really fit for purpose.

They’re often flawed.

There’s a lot of mistakes made, and also the whole process is extremely biassed in favour of not giving the award.


It’s very stressful. And if you lose the welfare benefit, or if it’s not awarded, then you have an appeals process, which is very bureaucratic, and very difficult.


It’s practically impossible without any support.

And it’s very hard to get that support, often.

And for many people it’s too much for them.

They cannot go through the process.


And sadly, it’s left a lot of people living in really bad poverty, and thousands of people have actually died in relation to welfare benefit assessments.


Yeah, so the bed bugs represent profiteering companies that are basically profiteering from Disabled people, and causing them a lot of stress.


So that’s one thing that the bedbugs represent.

In UK, for mental health system survivors, there’s also the recovery model.

And that’s become … it’s been hijacked as a cost cutting thing and a reason to take away services.


And it’s become a cure, a false cure that’s saying, "Oh yeah, you’re all better now". Because you’ve done you know, 10 minutes of CBT or whatever.


It oppresses people from becoming, growing into their real authentic self .. and it’s crushing all the great things about their neurodivergence.

It’s basically about fitting in.

So that’s like, an attack, and that’s very draining as well.


So that’s what the bedbugs represent to me.

I connected them with bedbugs because somebody who I won’t name, but they brought bed bugs to my flat by accident!


And so, you have to put the poison down. And you have to lie down asleep on the floor. And then they walk across the poison.

And that’s how you get rid of them… they walk…you have to lie there and attract them.

And you just feel completely powerless.


Gift: good god


Jo: because you know you’re going to sleep as bait for these bedbugs to come and bite you.

So, it felt very much the same as going through these awful assessments.

Meet the team and find out more about Joanne’s artistic practice at

This is a preview of our new video podcast, in which we speak with people who are blurring the boundaries between the roles of artists, makers, musicians, dancers, coders…

It’s about being in a sort of protective veil of mysterious light. And it’s to do with a part of neurodivergence…it is rarely talked about, like, the positive side of it.

Joanne Cox

Toward the start of the conversation we got to talk about some of the ideas behind these pieces. It quickly spread out into thoughts about neurodiversity and music…how other aspects can take priority, and how collaboration between different media can bring unexpected results as we might not always understand the communication going on.

A transcription of the conversation is available by tapping on “show transcript” below.

? Show transcript


Jo: The opening piece stems from when I first jammed with Charles with colour and the cello.

So Charles was making the cello notes into colour in a studio and it just changed the way I played.


[soft cello music interwoven with the pulsating light on the video]


Jo: Yeah, it was like you said, Gift. It was quite a spiritual, soulful experience.

There’s something about light and colour that is very soulful.

So that the first piece, the UK Tree Path and the Canada Tree Walk, it’s the Dragon Cello lighting up these these lights. and it’s just spiritual and soulful and exploring, and mysterious.


And it’s about being in a sort of protective veil of mysterious light. And it’s to do with a part of neurodivergence.

I mean, I can only speak for myself, because everyone experiences it differently.

But it is rarely talked about, like, the positive side of it. And it’s about the positive side of being more sensitive.


Charles: Personally, I felt really strongly connected to that, that way of, I don’t know, playing with the sound and then producing light from that.

It takes me back to why I started doing things like this in the first place.

Because it often involves something like a computer or circuit boards, or whatever.

But really, it’s just that these are the best ways I find to make something that doesn’t fit into the usual the usual norms of how we experience music.

I love stuff that’s got a continuum, say, from sound down into feeling and bass.

And when we think about vibration separately, if people are talking about kind of vibrating objects, coming from a dance music perspective,

I’m thinking well, that that’s just what we were doing back in the day, that’s just, you know…

we would be seeking to make stuff that was more like a roller coaster than a track, or something like that.


Jo: Yeah. [laughs]


Charles: And, and the light in particular, I remember wanting to get into this as a teenager, wanting to make music.

I wanted to make something that would not just take you somewhere else but maybe make people hallucinate or something.

And how would you do that through sound? How could you really play with it?

And it’s quite funny now, kind of, much, much later on, realising that music can do things to you.

And like, if it’s making you hallucinate, then that’s on the surface.

It’s like, there’s some kind of really deep change that might be taking place.

And something like this can maybe help understand that with the verbal communication on something, which usually takes priority, like I think you mentioned earlier, on Kate, there’s a different way of communicating that we might not be aware of.


There are these different ways that we can maybe draw people into that and one of them is through producing this light, and this kind experience that we’re not going to necessarily understand.

But when you’re in the room, developing it together, it’s like there’s something that neither of you are necessarily putting into it.

It feels like there’s something emerging from that, that you don’t have control of… or … maybe I just don’t… I don’t know.


Jo: Yeah! [laughs in agreement]


Kate: I love your description of making a roller coaster, not just a track, like it’s like a full body experience.


Jo: Yeah


Kate: And I do feel that way when I’m listening to Jo’s cello.

Because in my neurodivergent world I would live very much in my head, and my body sometimes almost feels like a different country that I cross the border to go into to do the things I need to do, like use my hands.

So when when I can feel the music in sort of my whole body it’s quite like “oh, wow, I’ve got a body!”

So yeah, I sort of relate to what you’re saying about that, more than just going in your ears and being processed in that kind of way that we normally think of music.


Charles: I don’t remember where I got this but somebody said “sound is essentially an extension of touch”.

It’s like touch long distance and whether we’re hearing that or feeling that, it kind of says to me sometimes sound can be like time travel as well, if you’re listening a to recording…


Jo: yeah,


Charles: yeah, just crossing over and not keeping things in one narrow box.

Meet the team and find out more about Joanne’s artistic practice at

This is a preview of our new video podcast, in which we speak with people who are blurring the boundaries between the roles of artists, makers, musicians, dancers, coders…

We were overjoyed to be able to invite our friends and collaborators Joanne Cox and Kate Lovell on as our first guests. Joanne has been working on the research and development two main projects over the last few years: Defiant Journey and Define Your Journey.

Defiant Journey is a stage show incorporating music (with Joanne’s Dragon Cello filling the space), interactive electronics with vibrations, movement, sign interpretation, and plenty of opportunities to get involved. It’s all about the experience of being a Neurodivergent/Disabled artist in our current time.

Define Your Journey is an interactive online experience which grew out of Defiant Journey during the pandemic. It follows the same themes, uses the same music, but the creative process of bringing this work online, including our cross-continental collaboration, has really changed the shape.

Over the next few posts we’ll be highlighting some key moments from our conversation, before we release the full hour-long episode. And watch this space for more opportunities to start new collaborations!

This is a preview of screen reader access for the bed bug scene in Define Your Journey:

It’s very much work in progress — watch this space for more information!

test element testing

Blurring the Boundaries have teamed up with the National accessArts Center in Calgary to develop a series of workshops.

Watch and listen to a collaborative piece developed in week 2:

Play along with the video using an embedded instrument:

These instruments have been developed based on ideas and code in Joanne Cox’s Define Your Journey project.

Aimee Louw and Gift Tshuma discuss movement with guests Karine-Myrgianie Jean-François, Barak adé Soleil, and Leroy Moore.

This episode resonated particularly strongly with us!

Lead artist Gift Tshuma appeared as part of an online discussion hosted by The Walrus on the 29th October. Scroll down to check out the video and transcription! But first, some context:

E-flyer text: The Walrus Talks at Home: Inclusion (Part 2)

Creating access and opportunity through community, design, and the arts
Four speakers on how the arts, design, and community-building in everyday society can foster opportunities and promote accessibility

Featuring five-minute talks and Q&A with:
-Sarah Jama, community organizer
-Darby Lee Young, principal accessibility strategist, Level Playing Field
-Gift Tshuma, musical artist
-Dorothy Ellen Palmer, writer

The Q&A was facilitated by Aimee Louw , TD fellow on disability and inclusion, The Walrus (and also co-host of Accessibilize Montreal’s #CripTalkCorner podcast).

Find out more about Gift’s practice on his artist page here. Our research and development sessions were supported through the New Conversations programme by the British Council, Canada High Commission in the UK and Farnham Maltings, with travel and access supported by Canada Council for the Arts.

Captions are not currently available for this video — please see the transcription below!

Hi, my name is Gift Tsuma. I’m an artist from Blurring the Boundaries based in here in Montreal. And today, I’d like to talk to you about creating access to music. And how do we do that practically you may be wondering.. Well, I think it’s important to, to look at the following questions like: are we identifying or creating space to create access within the music scene, whether it’s in the design of instruments, or the music technology being used? And also, another question that is very important is: what are disabled artists already doing out there with material that they have?

This actually makes me think of a disabled artist based in the UK, his name is John Kelly. He actually designed an electric guitar called the Kellycaster. And he designed it in a way that was actually accessible to him, where he’s able to strum the guitar with these right hand, and to change the chords, he uses the keyboard to do that, and he did that with his team. So Blurring the Boundaries, which is a collective of artists based in the UK and Canada, tries to blur the boundaries when it comes to design phase of musical instruments, and music technology. And our collective is actually based on the famous slogan, Nothing About Us Without us, Nothing About Us Without Us.

Photo of a room full of musicians in a studio: Gift Tshuma, Miss Jacqui, John Kelly, and Robyn Steward (with support bat Henry). All are playing digital instruments, ranging from keyboards and computers to cardboard boxes with arcade buttons. In the middle of the room, the vibrotactile artist David Bobier is enthusiastically shooting a video on his phone. A cartoon black and white background contains the words: “nothing about us without us”.
Blurring the Boundaries studio session at Hampstead Music and Voice Studios: Miss Jacqui, John Kelly, David Bobier, Robyn Steward, Gift Tshuma.

It is really important that those who have a disability are involved within the design phase, that they actually be innovators. And it is very important that we dismantle the hierarchy that often exists between so called experts, and the subject or the artists involved. We do this through an improvisation process, or when we do musical technology and design, one, some of the important variables that are dear to us are that the tools that are being used to make an instrument accessible, have to be cost efficient, and open source…or at least free. We all like free stuff, right? So if resources are open source, then people have the option to actually customize the tools and the resources to their own needs.

And just to bring them back again, in terms of the goals, we want to identify the barriers. We want to identify the strengths and to identify the resources. Once you’ve done that, then we’re able to create a community. And last year, last year in the fall we were able to meet a great community of artists in the UK, and we were able to have R&D sessions (research and development sessions), where we created instruments and software. And there was no hierarchy between experts and innovators. Everyone was in an equal playing field.

To do that successfully, it requires a certain level of openness .. what do I mean by that? Well, we like to take a jazz approach, meaning improvisation. And when we’re designing something, we do not have an expectation on end result. But we want people to have an open mind to explore different things, because you’re actually able to reach results that you may not have thought of before. And that’s what we base our our workshops on. It’s actually an open contract to getting an end result for that. And honestly, when it comes to music, it is about community building. It is about connecting with people and expression. And that’s what we try to do. If that’s something that interests you, get in touch with us at and you can also check out our social media as well: @blurtheboundary

We’d love to connect and make some music with you.

Find out more about John Kelly and the Kellycaster here!

Watch the rest of the event on the Walrus YouTube channel: