Inclusive Art and Fashion

24. December 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

So many things are designed to be all-inclusive, but there will always be those who are unable to partake fully. This is especially true of works of art. Several mitigating factors: language, region, even sensory perception, can keep the little details from getting through. Fortunately, cutting-edge advancements in technology are helping matters considerably. The following two stories are about disabled individuals using modern technology to share in the same experiences as their peers.

The World's Most Famous Face

The Mona Lisa has long been one of the most revered portraits in history. The painting has been studied, copied, and parodied so many times, it's hard to imagine what the world was like before it was created. Nevertheless, its two-dimensional nature makes it almost impossible for visually impaired persons to experience its detail and beauty. Thanks to a group of Finnish artists, that may soon change.

3D art print
Image via Gizmodo.

The Unseen Art project is based out of Helsinki and operates with the goal of making traditionally two-dimensional works of into 3D prints that one can touch. The prints are to be open-sourced, allowing for printing all over the world. Although the project is still trying to raise funds through an IndieGoGo campaign, it has already created a prototype of the Mona Lisa. The ultimate goal is create a full gallery's worth of prints, so that blind art patrons will have a collection of their very own.

Comfort and Function

For those with disabilities, even the mundane task of selecting clothes can be a chore. Whereas most people select clothing based on comfort and design, autistic individuals find themselves struggling with size, shape, and patterns. One mother made simplifying clothing options for her autistic son her personal cause.

young adult clothing models
Image via mental_floss.

Former CNN anchor Lauren Thierry created Independence Day Clothing after years of helping Liam, her autistic son, struggle with clothing. Thierry's clothing line, designed for both adults and children, eliminates the need for buttons, zippers, and tags, and that lowers the risk of injury. The clothes are also designed in a way that eliminates any specific front or back, allowing wearers to put the clothes on however they like.

For the millions who deal with conditions like autism, Thierry's clothing line gives a welcome sense relief and independence. "We really changed the conversation," Thierry says. "They can get up, get dressed, and feel good about themselves."

One Step at a Time

One important thing to remember about people with disabilities is that, just like those without disabilities, they have their learning curves. The ultimate goal of learning, whether we're learning to speak a new language or to walk again after a debilitating accident, is to have what is being learned become second nature. Technology is making that goal more and more attainable.

Modern Day Mapping

The practical purpose of maps has often overshadowed their artistic value. Maps are meant to be easy-to-read guides that lead you from Point A to Point B. At the same time, their design is the work of skilled illustrators taking great pains to make the maps not only practical, but visually appealing as well.

As technology advances and borders are redrawn, it's tempting to think of old maps as obsolete relics. But they provide a fascinating look at the world as it once existed, and the illustrative methods that were once considered state of the art. The following two stories show us how far we've come and perhaps provide a glimpse of what lies ahead.

Course Plotter

There are few people in the United States who can read an atlas as well as John Hessler can. A cartography expert for the Library of Congress, he's made it his life's work to chart the evolution of the visual guides that humans have used to get around. One of the most important things he's discovered is that the visual design of a map is just as important as the geographical data it represents.

Ptolemy Map
Image via Wired.

"What we're looking at whenever we're looking at a map is an abstraction," Hessler says. "Really what we're doing is like any visual art or design; were taking extreme complexity that takes place in the real world and abstracting it to simple visual images that help us understand complex interactions." Hessler showcases a great deal of his knowledge in the new Phaidon Publishing book Map: Exploring the World. The book collects over three hundred historical maps from all over the world.

Big Apple on the Tree

Although the isle of Manhattan is renowned for being a hub of cultural change, its place as a hub of geographical change can sometimes prove controversial. Both historians and casual New Yorkers have wondered what it would be like to see The Big Apple before the skyscrapers were built. Thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society, you can.

Green Manhattan
Image via Mental Floss.

The Welikia Project is a digital experiment by the WCS which takes satellite images of modern-day Manhattan and replaces them with realistic visualizations of how they would have looked in years past. This allows users to see the city covered entirely with flora and fauna.

It's impossible to predict how maps may be used in the distant future, because it's impossible to know what new areas will be discovered next. But, then, part of the fun of looking at maps is documenting how far you've come.

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.

 

German Expressionism and the Role of Printmaking

German Expressionism refers to a particular point in art history just before World War I that culminated in the development of new styles of art across mediums as diverse as film, painting, architecture and cinema throughout the country.

But perhaps the most underappreciated artistic movement was the use of printmaking to develop new artistic forms, respond to the political upheaval at the time, and provide records of violence experienced during World War I.

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