Knowing Art when You See It

Although the digital age has made it easier than ever to see the world's greatest art in vivid detail, nothing yet compares to the experience of witnessing it yourself in a museum or gallery. Sure, you can browse books and websites about the Louvre and the Sistine Chapel, but they don't hold a candle to standing in the buildings themselves. From school field trips to couples on first dates, art exhibitions are a unique visual experience.

The only problem is how to appreciate them when you don’t have full visual acuity. Even with the most detailed of audio guides, a blind person will only walk away with a vague impression of a piece of art. Well, one museum in Spain is using 3-D printing to make art available for those who can’t see it – and it requires breaking one of the art world’s well-known rules.

"Do not touch" has been one of the most steadfast rules for visitors to businesses and exhibits the world over. From museums to zoos, guests are told early and often to appreciate the work from a respectable distance. But at the very least, the average guest is able to visually absorb what is around them.

(via NPR)

In order to make some of the world’s most famous art pieces accessible to the blind, the Museo del Prado in Spain has used 3-D printed versions of the art to create the braille equivalent of paintings. The museum has 3-D printed works of Goya, Velasquez, El Greco, and even Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa".

With the versatility of each piece – including the equal attention paid to both visual color and physical texture – the experiment is also popular with both the visually-impaired and the visually proficient. Spanish collegiates have found the experiment a refreshing new take on art appreciation, and the blind have begun to regard it as a missing link in their experiencing popular art in a way others take for granted.

The museum will be running the experiment until June 28 and there are no specific plans for running the experiment again. Nevertheless, 3-D printing has once again proven to be an invaluable tool in making accessible what was previously thought impossible to the human experience.


Saving our Skin

21. May 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

This blog has mentioned before how 3-D printing has already changed the face of medicine and promises to do even more in the future. One such innovation is the technique known as bio-printing, in which organic material is created for use with living tissue. When 3-D printing is added to the process, it not only expedites the production of the material, but it increases the number of applications for which the process can be used.

Not only has 3-D bio-printing become a crucial tool in the avenues of stem cells, heart repair, and the treatment of cancer, but it could also eliminate one of the most controversial factors of the pharmaceutical and beauty industries. Although animal testing is regarded as a scientific necessity amongst scientific academia, it’s an incredibly divisive topic that has long stirred the ire of animal rights groups and humanitarian organizations. But soon that argument could become a moot point.

The L’Oreal company, one of the largest beauty companies in the world, recently announced a partnership with the bio-printing company Organovo. The aim of the partnership is for Organovo to provide L’Oreal with bio-printed human tissue for use in testing their cosmetics. Though still in the developmental stage, the harvested material would ideally provide more accurate results with how human skin reacts to the beauty products.

The need for animal testing probably won’t go away in the foreseeable future, but projects like the L’Oreal partnership with Organovo illuminate how technology has the potential to both streamline common necessities and help eliminate the moral dilemmas surrounding them.

The Pitfalls of 3-D Printing

14. May 2015 09:42 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: ,   //   Comments (0)

Once again, another day seems to bring another new report on an innovation in 3-D printing. The technology hasn’t become truly commonplace just yet, but its proliferation appears to increase with every new use discovered. But just as more industries adopt the technology for its functional simplicity and ability to reduce production costs, there also lurks the possibility of unforeseen consequences to long-standing institutions.

(via Forbes)

Creating a Monopoly

One such concern is the threat of a monopoly over manufacturers. Although the number of companies exploring the technology seems innumerable, two companies – 3D Systems and Stratasys – control an overwhelming market share of printer manufacturing. Over the past decade, the two companies have engaged in seemingly endless acquisitions of smaller manufacturers. Although some credit the push by these two companies as being instrumental in the recent prevalence of the technology, it also raises the concern that smaller manufacturers will be left with one of two choices: allow their companies to be acquired or watch the companies flounder.

Replacing Manual Labor

Another equally pressing concern comes from those in industries traditionally done by hand. The worry amongst these industries – such as model-makers – is the idea that they will be entirely replaced by an assembly line of machines. Though this concern is often dismissed as alarmist, it does hold a basis in reality: the automobile industry does the majority of its once-by-hand assembly through machines, and a series of jobs that traditionally required human interaction are being outsourced to machines in large numbers.

Will Science Fiction Become Fact?

Only time will reveal the true impact of 3-D printing technology on the world at large. The problem with adopting a new technology with seemingly limitless potential is the ambiguity of when and where its applications will stop. Such is the stuff of science fiction. But if that genre has taught us one indisputable truth, it’s that technology is merely a tool with no moral compass of its own. Rather, it is the use of the tool that reflects the motivations of its users.


Where I Lay My Head

7. May 2015 23:52 by Steve Leigh in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Who didn’t dream of becoming their favorite hero? As soon as kids learn to pronounce the names of the people they see in movies or read in comics, they soon wind up turning their bedrooms into mini cathedrals dedicated to their daring feats.

For most of us, this is pretty simple and inexpensive – a few posters here, some video games and DVDs there, maybe some matching bed sheets – but then there are the folks who go the extra mile. Here are a few fans who turned their love of sci-fi and superheroes into tributes the heroes themselves would envy.


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