New project helping blind people appreciate fine art

The poignant and masterful nature that comes from a piece of fine art can often be taken for granted by many of us.
Masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa are instantly recognisable, providing a stark and striking reminder of just how wonderful it can be to marvel upon an artist’s end product, while left in awe at how a piece of humble blank canvas can be turned into something quite so remarkable.
It is often when we think about the small pieces of detail that we come to truly appreciate a work. The colours, the shading, the scene, even the style of the paint strokes can all conspire to the heighten the joy experienced when looking at a piece of art.
However, for the millions of people that have lost their sight – a sense undeniably vital to the appreciation of art – such joys are often criminally denied.

Coming out of the darkness

Innovations in various other aspects of everyday life have helped enhance the lives of blind people all over the world, yet conveying the beauty of Van Gogh to someone that cannot see would be written off as impossible for many.
But recent advances in technology mean that this can change, with a group from Finland harnessing the power of 3D printing to help bring blind art lovers out of the darkness.
Unseen Art runs on the belief that by offering a physical three-dimensional rendering of a work, it becomes possible to appreciate it in much the same manner as an able-sighted person would.
The group has recently launched an Indiegogo campaign, which has been promoted by a video showing a blind participant experiencing Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa for the first time.
The level of appreciation shown by the blind woman in the video is one of amazement, as well as the sort of enthusiasm one would expect when experiencing an important work for the first time.
She says: “It’s the expression that’s the most mysterious here. It’s a little bit enigmatic. My fingers are excited.”

Going global

While the initiative itself is hugely exciting, one of the main advantages it has is the fact it has a global reach due to the widespread nature of 3D printing.
It means that in theory, these low-cost renditions could be printed and enjoyed in any location, even in people’s own homes.
According to The Independent, the group, which hopes to raise a total of $30,000 (£20,000) through its Indiegogo fundraising site, is even set to create an interactive platform that will allow users to contribute and download art for free.
With such a dedication to bring art to the visually impaired, it really does boost the idea that the finest works can really be for everyone’s enjoyment.