Visually impaired and blind people will probably not have the best moments of their lives in museums. As they are visually impaired or even unable to see, they can’t experience the art, and because of the regulations they also can’t touch the art. Not if they go to the Museo del Prado in Madrid, which exhibition Touching the Prado is all about touching art pieces. Six paintings have been 3D printed and are now to be touched by everyone.
The collection of 3D printed paintings includes, inter alia, El Greco’s “Nobleman with His Hand on His Chest (El Greco), The Parasol (Goya) and The Triumph of Bacchus (Velazquez). They were first photographed and then 3D printed using a so-called Didú technique.
This technique was developed by Estudios Durero, a Spain-based design agency. The technique is all about turning something flat – a photograph – into a something with texture and volume. The text next to the paintings is written in braille. People who are not visually-impaired can also enjoy this exhibition, as they get to wear darkened glasses and are guided by an audio guide.
The entire manufacturing process takes 52 hours per painting, of which 40 hours are required for printing and another 12 hours are needed to use a chemical. This adds extra volume to the paintings. Because people can’t see the paintings, but touch them – so goes the story – the way they experience art changes entirely.
The exhibition text reads:
This project allows for the reality of the painting to be perceived in order to mentally recreate it as a whole and thus provide an emotional perception of the work. Non-sighted visitors will be able to obtain a heightened degree of artistic-aesthetic-creative enjoyment in order to explain, discuss and analyze these works in the Prado.
It is definitely not the first time 3D printing technology is being used to recreate a painting. Fuji film did a project called Reliefography, where they 3D printed Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. at the time, we called it a democratization of art.
The exhibition Touching the Prado runs until June 28, 2015.
Credits images: Museo del Prado.