AR App Gives Artists ‘Virtual Cataracts’ as Part of Public Awareness Campaign

The John Fawcett Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to eradicate curable blindness in economically-disadvantaged areas of Indonesia, has partnered with Affordable Art Fair Singapore and TBWA Singapore to launch a new initiative called ‘Catarart’ at the event taking place November 17-19.

The interesting project asks artists to create artwork under the conditions of cataracts through the use of an augmented reality app that creates a ‘virtual cataracts’ experience.

The AR app uses a smartphone’s back-facing camera to reduce focus, colour saturation, light and depth perception – simulating cataract visual impairment.


Jango Pramartha – Catarart

Balinese artist Jango Pramartha loses his sight so he can give it to cataract patients. How? Why? And what can you do to be a part of it? Visit the John Fawcett Foundation booth at the Affordable Art Fair, Singapore, 17-19 November. Help us restore sight. #johnfawcettfoundation #catarart

Posted by John Fawcett Foundation on Monday, November 13, 2017


The development of the app was refined in consultation with Dr Wayan Gde Dharyata SpM, an ophthalmologist who has restored sight to over 10,000 cataract patients throughout his career.

“The app provides a good simulation of an immature cataract,” said ophthalmologist  Dr Wayan Gde Dharyata . “Vision becomes cloudy and blurred, making it difficult to count fingers held up 1–3 metres away from the subject. But many of the people we treat in rural villages suffer from more severe impairment, as cataracts mature and vision disappears altogether.”

So far, contributing artists include Chinese brush painter Ong Lee Heng, Balinese fine artist Kadek Jango Pramatha, portrait and figurative artist Simon Ng, renowned documentary photographer Nicky Loh, and local design artist Rachel Poonsiriwong. All artwork will be displayed and sold at Affordable Art Fair Singapore.

Visitors will have the opportunity to personally experience the AR app and create their very own Catarart pieces in return for a small donation to JFF. There will also be artists producing purchasable artwork LIVE during the 3-day event, including contemporary artist Chloë Manasseh, Chinese brush painter Ong Lee Heng, and portrait artist Laurent Pastorelli.

The project will raise vital funds to help a country that suffers from one of the worst rates of cataract blindness in the world. Over four million Indonesians are needlessly blind, simply because they have no access to specialist medical facilities.

“As John always said – these people are blind because they’re poor, and poor because they’re blind,” said Gede Bingin, Manager of JFF. “That’s why it makes sense for us to engage with a community whose eyesight has been fundamental in turning their passions into successful professions. We hope to open the eyes of the public to the stark problem and reverse this cycle of poverty.”

JFF brings medical facilities to the people via several mobile surgery units, which visit villages throughout Indonesia to conduct screenings and provide free surgery for those affected. A simple 20-minute operation can restore their eyesight.

Participating Artists
Ong Lee Heng
Simon Ng
Nicky Loh
Chloë Manasseh
Kadek Jango Pramatha
Rachel Poonsiriwong
Laurent Pastorelli

Creative Agency: TBWA\Group Singapore
Executive Creative Director: Gary Steele, Hagan de Villiers
Senior Art Director: Laurent Pastorelli
Art Director: Carlos Pizarro:
Digital Head of Copy: Evelyn Aw
Copywriter: Alejandro Herrer
Business Director: Peter Etheridge

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