Wednesday 18th November 2015
3D printing is everywhere in the art world lately, from generating new sculptural techniques to enabling entirely new forms of abstract expressionism, but thanks to a new initiative it's breaking even more new ground. If you've been living under a rock lately, 3D printing is the latest wave of homebrew fabrication technology that allows users to generate 3D models using special software and a printer that uses plastic and resin compounds instead of ink. It gradually builds up the surface layer by layer, allowing for an incredible amount of detail in its constructions. The technology has been around for a few years now, and although it still has to break its way into the mainstream, it's gaining a lot of buzz as the machinery becomes more and more affordable. As the userbase grows, so do the number of artists using it in their work, and new applications are being developed every day.
The latest buzz surrounds a project named 3DPhotoWorks with an ambitious goal: to bring visual art to the blind. In the past the idea may have seemed like a tastelessly cruel joke, but thanks to 3D printing technology, 3DPhotoWorks has been captivating the blind with 3D printings of famous paintings and other traditionally two dimensional work. As it says on their website, "3DPhotoWorks has devoted 7 years to developing a process that allows Blind people to “see” art and photography. Our goal is to make the world’s greatest art and greatest photography available to this deserving audience at every museum, every science center and every cultural institution, first in this country, and then beyond." They're referring to the United States, but as the buzz grows, expect to see more and more museums and galleries around the world show and interest in the work.
Just recently there was an exhibition in Seattle, Washington, put on courtesy of the National Federation for the Blind of Washington, which featured 3D models of The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, The Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent Van Gogh, and a 3D printed map of Washington state. Interestingly enough, the map was just as popular as the other two items despite its more prosaic nature, due to the fact that topography is more of a notional concept to the blind. Actually being able to feel a map and all the spatial relationships it contains is just as (if not more) interesting as some of the greatest works of art!
Posted on November 18th 2015 on 09:44pm