Tactile Photographs
September 20, 2005 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Tactile Photographs. I created this series of tactile photographic prints as part of a project about the deafblind community in Boston, called "Senses". The works are produced through a CNC laser etching process that removes the top portion of the wood. The darker the image is a any particular point, the more wood is removed by the laser at that point. The result is a photographic relief that can be touched as well as seen.
posted by mabelstreet (12 comments total)
OK, this is freaking awesome. On so many levels.
posted by gwint at 11:38 AM on September 20, 2005

Wow, those are really cool. I imagine they are as interesting to touch as they are to view.
posted by j.p. Hung at 11:38 AM on September 20, 2005

That's a great idea. Props to the people who made that possible.
posted by cleverusername at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2005

Incredibly cool! I'd love to be able to submit a few photos to have this process applied to. The resulting "photos" are beautiful and organic in a way that regular prints just cannot be.
posted by fenriq at 11:56 AM on September 20, 2005

My dad does some copper etching that does the same thing, but I've never seen photographs done this way. Neat-o.
posted by Specklet at 11:56 AM on September 20, 2005

Really neat. I wonder how blind people deal with photographic perspective:

Does it just feel to them that there's a slightly smaller person in the background, or do they intuit that the "smaller" person is actually farther away?

(I only ask about people who have always been blind, and have never seen a photo or painting.)
posted by interrobang at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2005

when you go to visit an art gallery, you almost never actually get to touch the pieces. so it's odd to see people reaching out and putting their paws all over them.

very cool.
posted by atlatl at 2:23 PM on September 20, 2005

Wow, that's really fantastic.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:06 PM on September 20, 2005

Im speechless.

Most specially printed photographic archival quality prints will only last 100 years, these will last for 1000.

posted by rawfishy at 9:13 PM on September 20, 2005

This is awesome
posted by kamylyon at 9:17 PM on September 20, 2005

interrobang - I doubt that they would understand it at all. Our understanding of a photograph is through a convention reinforced by our knowledge of the visual. Blind people who have their sight restored have great difficulty with these conventions, they can recognise a square by touch, but not by sight (for example) until they learn what is, in effect, a new language. This language is so natural to us that we forget it is there and how complicated it is - when it comes to faces or animals there are whole sections of the brain specifically dedicated to this visual interpretation - in the blind these areas get used up by other processes in childhood and it is not so easy to reassign them later.

Being blind is therefore not like being sighted but with your eyes shut, it's very different indeed. My guess would be that for the long-term blind these etchings would be an interesting tactile experience but nothing more. That doesn't make them any less fun.
posted by grahamwell at 6:02 AM on September 21, 2005

Nice. Shame there's not a shot that shows one of the image's contours.
posted by Kiell at 9:10 AM on September 21, 2005

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