Oct 14, 2016 | By Benedict

A 3D printed version of The Kiss (1908), a painting by Austrian Symbolist Gustav Klimt, is on display at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, where the original work also resides. The all-white 3D printed version represents the original in relief, and can therefore be studied by blind museum-goers.

The new 3D printed version of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss is more a complete rethinking of the work than a simple printed replica. Foregoing the yellow and brown colors that punctuate Klimt’s masterpiece, the 3D printed version is entirely white, and can be appreciated in a tactile as well as visual sense. When museum visitors touch the 3D printed model, whose surface depicts the painting and its various textures in 3D, sensors will trigger audio information about the specific part of the painting that the visitor’s finger is touching. “We want to open up a whole new chapter of making art available for the blind and visually impaired,” said Rainer Delgado from the German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The tactile 3D printed recreation of The Kiss, which measures 42 x 42 cm, is the result of a European Union project called "Access to Museums for Blind and Visually Impaired People (AMBAVis)" which aimed at helping the blind and visually impaired experience cultural works and events. The group behind the current projects consists of the Belvedere, the Economica Institute of Economic Research, and visual computing organization VRVis, all from Austria, as well German and Austrian associations for the blind and visually impaired, Britain’s Manchester Museum, and Slovakian nonprofit Trnka.

© Ruth List

The Kiss, chosen by the group for its historical and cultural significance, depicts a man in lavish clothing embracing a woman, and is known for its rich colors and textures. While these colors are not represented on the all-white 3D printed version, the textures have been recreated as 3D surfaces, enabling blind museum-goers to understand Klimt’s vision.

The group behind the 3D printed version of The Kiss has high hopes that additive technology can be used to reshape the way in which blind and visually impaired people can appreciate art. According to Delgado, replicas such as the piece in question could even be made outside of the museum space, making the works even more accessible: “Maybe in the future [blind people] will have a 3D printer of their own at home and will be able to download 3D files from museum home pages,” he said.

The Belvedere’s attempt to bring the gallery experience to blind people follows the lead set by other institutions such as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has a special “touch collection.” This collection contains, amongst other things, a Roman marble foot and a 20th-century Eskimo sculpture. The New York museum also gives audio descriptive tours of its regular collections, explaining the pieces on display through detailed verbal descriptions.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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