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Why was grade-one Braille used for ‘tactile mind’? What does it say?

Lisa worked with professional Braillist(s) who used grade-one Braille, so (she felt) the work could be easily understood by a wider audience. This  Braille is written letter by letter, so even a sighted person could download the Braille alphabet off the computer and stumble through the descriptions of the photographs.  The Braille accompanying ‘tactile mind’ is in (American) English, which is the standard for North America.

The Braille describes the photograph – how it is cropped, the mask, if the subject is turned to the side, etc. Generally when a blind reader  ‘sees’ a tactile diagram of a person, the diagram is head to feet, facing forward.  The Braille description given in ‘tactile mind’ helps guide the reader through the photographs for a better understanding.

What was the process for creating tactile diagrams for ‘tactile mind’?

For her tactile diagrams, Lisa began with an idea of what she would like to photograph, and who. She would make the majority of  masks and costumes from household goods, grab a subject, dress them up, and start shooting with 35mm film and her trusty manual Nikon. When she received her photographs back from the lab, Lisa would then decide which one might work the best for tuning into a tactile diagram and would go from there.

1. Lisa would enlarge the photograph to a size she would want to work with.

2.Lisa would then layer and build the photograph upwards with clay, metal,cardboard, string – anything that wouldn’t burn or give off toxic fumes at high heat.

3. This diagram would then go into an oven to bake/set – hopefully not breaking / cracking with the heat.

4. Out of the oven, the diagram would cool and then be placed in the thermoform machine with a piece of heavy Braillon (aka. thermoform plastic) on top – hopefully not breaking / cracking with the heat.

5. 3-D imprint is made into the plastic, and the page is taken to a blind proofreader for feedback.

6. Steps 2-5 then repeated until diagram is done to the best of her abilities, and is completely understandable by a proofreader(s); correctly depicting her photograph.

-Each image would take approximately 50 hours in total; from conception to completion.

How and when did the idea for ‘tactile mind’ happen?

5 years ago, Lisa J. Murphy was making tactile diagrams for vision impaired & blind childrens’ educational books, and thought “why not?”. Lisa had received a certificate in Tactile Graphics from the Institute for the Blind, and decided to use her new  knowledge with her own photographs of artistic nudes. Lisa wanted to challenge herself, and she began to create tactile pictures for adults. Over the next 2 years, her idea turned into a book consisting of 17 3-D pictures, with grade-one Braille accompaniment.