If one were to ask the general art community what type of art all paintings would fall under, most will surely say visual art. If one were to follow up with said community asking if visual art would also appeal to the medically blind, most would give a look similar to a deer staring at headlights. To be fair, most people — not just those in the art community — would not relate visual art to those who cannot see. Today however, that is no longer the case.
Many artists these days are incorporating texture into their masterpieces. As a result, art enthusiasts can appreciate art through feeling it besides just seeing it. As a matter of fact, it is through feeling art that John Bramblitt is able to create his masterpieces… because he is blind himself.
True modern pieces of art can be painted with a 3D effect so that the blind may enjoy art along with everyone else, but what about older artworks, masterpieces everyone has learned about growing up? Well thanks to advancements in printers, said masterpieces can be recreated with 3D effects. Now blind people who’ve heard about how amazing the Mona Lisa or Washington Crossing the Delaware were can judge for themselves through touch.
The method to create 3D versions of famous paintings was developed by John Olson, as reported by Reuters. Utilizing a 3D printer, he transforms said paintings into tactile images, which in turn transform the lives of blind people. Apparently, Olson pursued said method over the course of seven years because he wondered what life would be life if he couldn’t see. Would he still appreciate art the way he does now?
“As a young man I decided I wanted to be a photojournalist. Later on in my career I began to realize how important images had been to me. And I started to wonder what my life would have been like without them. And that prompted me to wonder, what’s it like for the blind. So that motivated me to develop a printing process that blind people could see.”
John Olson then details the three-step method it takes to create such masterpieces, as reported by Business Insider. The first is to take any conventional 2D image and convert it into 3D data. Next, the data is sent to a printing machine that sculpts the data out of a block of substrate. It follows precise measurements to give the painting length, width, depth, and texture. After the substrate is printed out, it goes through another printing process in which the image of the painting is laid down on top of sculpted part of the 3D painting to complete it. Romeo Edmead, a blind man, was one of the first to feel the finished 3D masterpieces. It apparently opened up a new world for him in which he thinks it will open up a new world for other people who are blind just like him.
“It was kind of like opening up a new world. I’ve been blind since I was two-years-old. These things have always just been words to me. All my life we’ve all heard of famous painters and their works. But to me, that’s all they were. They were like vocabulary words I could write down on the page but I didn’t necessarily know how to put a physical picture together. And something like this presents that opportunity, that freedom to really get a better understanding. It’s one thing to have something described to you. But if you never could see before and you have no memory of seeing like me it’s a whole different ball of wax when you actually get to touch it.”
John Olson is thinking of launching a crowd-sourcing campaign to bring this method of presenting art internationally. In the end, if Olson is able to assimilate his method into the visual art world, it will surely open more doors for creativity, maybe create more of a new breed of artists, ones who are blind just like John Bramblitt mentioned earlier.
[Image via Screen Capture of Reuters’ Video On 3D Art For Blind People]