In February 2014 Gabriel Bonfim shot a portrait series of well-known tenor Andrea Bocelli and his family in Istanbul. As Andrea Bocell is blind and thus unable to see the photographs himself, Gabriel Bonfim and his partner Thomas Kurer made it their mission to find a way to render photographs “visible” to visually impaired people.
Many hours spent at schools for the blind in Switzerland and collaborative work with stereolithographers ultimately culminated in the birth of “Tactography™”: After sculpting the Tactography™ in computer aided design software starting from the original photography and the additional 3D-scan in several steps, the stereo-lithography (STL)-printing-file will be sent to a STL printer. Stereo-lithography is an additive manufacturing process that works by focusing an ultraviolet (UV) laser on to photopolymer resin. Because photopolymers are photosensitive under ultraviolet light, the resin is solidified and forms a single layer of the desired Tactography™. This process is repeated for each layer of the design until the Tactography™ is complete.
After printing the Tactography™ it will be sprayed completely white, ensuring that it can also be appreciated as art by a sighted person viewing it. In diffuse light conditions, viewers will be intrigued about whether they are seeing an image with painted shadows or a three-dimensional relief.
So, thanks to Tactography™, a photograph becomes an image for a visually impaired person, while for a sighted viewer, the image, reduced to white, becomes art.