[Art_beyond_sight_theory_and_research] How 3-D Printing Could Help The Blind "See" Paintings

fnugg at online.no fnugg at online.no
Thu Jun 13 06:43:23 UTC 2013

article excerpt

How 3-D Printing Could Help The Blind "See" Paintings

Constantine Tarabanis, a Harvard sophomore, is sighted. But back in 
Greece, where he grew up, Tarabanis worked with the visually impaired 
community for several years, volunteering at a school for the blind in 
Thessaloniki. Tarabanis became close friends in particular with a young 
man named George. Close enough, in fact, that Tarabanis began to feel a 
gulf when trying to communicate experiences only a sighted person can 
have--like seeing a painting, for instance.

Tarabanis had George in mind last semester when a roommate came back 
from a class carrying several 3-D printed objects. The light bulb went 
off: what if there was a way to use 3-D printing technology to somehow 
"translate" paintings into a form the blind could appreciate?

Tarabanis and several other roommates began applying themselves 
wholeheartedly to the idea (never mind that Tarabanis is ostensibly a 
molecular and cellular biology major). They began to design a system 
that would create "tactile representations of paintings," Tarabanis 
tells /Fast Company/. Using a combination of computer aided design 
software and 3-D printing technology, Tarabanis and his partners believe 
it should be relatively easy to create what he calls "two-and-a-half-D 
models" of paintings. You would "protrude the image," he says--similar 
to the sculptural technique known as relief.


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