Monday, February 11, 2013

Tactile photographs

I love discovering new art and this is new to me, anyway.

But not really.  At least it shouldn't be.  The idea of tactile photography isn't all that far removed from a geographic map or globe that demonstrates the raised textures of the Earth.  Ever do that as a kid?  Close your eyes and run your fingers over such a globe, feeling "nature's Braille" in the raised mountain ranges and ridges?

The same seems to go for tactile photographs.  I came across the artwork of photographer James Patten.  This particular page was for a gallery exhibition a number of years ago developed for the deafblind community.  Though dated and I am obviously quite late to the party, Patten provides a compelling account of his work that demands it remain relevant:
"As people touch the images, the surface of the wood continues to wear, and people's experience of the work becomes part of the work itself. I think of these works "interactive art" even though there are no computers or sophisticated mechanical mechanisms.
The most fascinating part of this work for me is watching people interact with the images, and seeing the different ways that sighted, blind and deafblind people experience them."

Make certain you check out the gallery at the link.  Of particular interest is the joyous expression on the visually-impaired art-goers as they run their hands over the photographic prints.  Also interesting is Patten's account of how the pictures were created:

"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."

After a bit of googling, I found other examples of tactile photography.  A few, such as these, are a bit more...suggestive and with fair warning, are perhaps a bit NSFW.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, just wanted to I said...fair warning.

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