The Light Relief project was delivered in 2014-2016 by the Managers of the Future MOFFIN Foundation in cooperation with individual persons and creators as well as cultural institutions from Cracow and Gdańsk. It was financed entirely from the MOFFIN Foundation’s own resources and represents its authors’ vision of how a group of creators imagine a work of visual art well adapted to the needs of persons with sight disabilities. It is a subjective approach.
We invite other individuals and organisations to share their observations on the subject matter and point out accessible cultural centres or well-adapted specific works of art.
Ireneusz Białek about Light Relief
As a completely blind person, I have on many occasions experienced the absence of a cultural offer adjusted to my needs. Alternatively, the offer available was so much simplified as to be simplistic. This was probably due to the fact that such offers were often developed for children with sight disabilities and it was somehow automatically assumed that they would be satisfactory for adults. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
That is why, inspired by everything we have managed to create at the Jagiellonian University in the context of the To Touch Culture event, I decided to cooperate with a group of people who in my opinion had developed complete adaptations of selected works free from the flaws mentioned above, yet with a multitude of advantages thanks to the combination of talent and knowledge from various fields. This is a good opportunity to thank them all.
I am thankful to Lech Kolasiński for being the first in Cracow to take on the difficult task of graphic adaptation of highly complex paintings. Now his achievements are used by many other creators and I am glad that the idea is now disseminated, yet at the beginning the struggle with the most difficult aspects of such adaptations was Lech’s only. His knowledge as a visual artist as well as his resilience and ability to step into the shoes of a blind person helped him reach stellar heights in the difficult art of adapting paintings to tactile forms.
I wish to thank Kuba Kosiniak who has become an expert reader of audio description, both recorded and presented live, in a manner that leaves no-one indifferent, including sighted persons.
I am glad that Martin Turnau agreed to read those audio descriptions in English for us. All voices in the Turnau Family sound very attractive.
Yet nothing could be read without in-depth specialist knowledge of individual works from specific cultural institutions so I am very grateful to all the authors of the descriptions from the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Cracow who had first talked to us about the perception of non-seeing and then took the conclusions into consideration when writing texts about selected exhibits from the Museum’s collection. I am particularly indebted to.
Magdalena Skrejko from the Museum of History of Photography in Cracow who put into her descriptions for Light Relief not just her vast knowledge of photography but also massive involvement and lots of positive energy.
While delivering the project, we were supported by the Director of the Museum of History of Photography in Cracow Maciej Beiersdorf, in the post until 2016. Light Relief would have never kicked off without his interest in the subject matter as well as his willingness to develop the initiative. I am grateful to him for hours of fascinating discussions during which I learnt so much about the history of photography and photography itself. Here is one such conversation:
I wish to thank the eminent photographer Chris Niedenthal for his willingness to share with me his reflections related to the passion he has been pursuing for so many years and with so much success. Here is our conversation:
Last but not least, I would like to thank Michał Popiel of the Cracow-based atelier Draft, without whose extraordinary engineering knowledge there would not be such great tactile graphics, built on layers and based on 3D printing, which exceeded all that I was initially imagining as possible to achieve by means of that technology.
I find the result of our joint efforts optimal for understanding and experiencing the works we selected for adaptation. That is why we are sharing it with all those interested and invite you to present your point of view, your own impressions and observations. After all, the adaptation of each exhibit to the needs of blind persons is a kind of separate work, art in itself and is also subject to specific interpretation. We simply wanted to present our own vision of the process we are very happy with.
I would like to thank you all again.
Board Chairman and founder of the Managers of the Future MOFFIN Foundation
In the course of our joint work, an idea was born to develop a replicable method for adapting specific works of art. We called it ‘Multilayer Touch 3 Deep MT3D’. The method is intellectual property of the MOFFIN Foundation and includes three elements:
A description taking into account the perception of non-seeing,
An audio description,
A tactile graphic developed on layers in the 3D technology.
Whether the target recipient would rather read a description him-/herself or listen to it as it is interpreted by a reader is an individual preference. However, a description and audio description intertwine with the impressions provided by touching a tactile graphic. A description or audio description may exist without a tactile graphic but never the other way round. It is worth remembering when inspired by our method.
A description of a work should draw one’s attention exhaustively to successive elements of the story and composition of a painting or photograph, point out to its dominant feature and explain the meaning of the symbols present in the work. The language of the description must take into account the perception of persons who are blind from birth. The description should also include information about the technique in which the work is executed as well as the historical context accompanying its creation. That is why ideally descriptions should be prepared by someone with a vast knowledge of a given exhibit or artistic discipline, yet in close cooperation with those knowledgeable about sight disability.
An audio description to a work is a description interpreted by a professional reader or native speaker in the original language of the description. The reader’s interpretation should usher the listener into the world of the work. Audio descriptions can be sometimes enriched with music.
The MT3D method is a perfect tool for understanding what visual art adaptation to the needs of adults with sight disabilities really is. We encourage cultural institutions to benefit, on their own premises, from a practical workshop focusing on the matter. Such a workshop stimulates awareness and offers an opportunity for creative development of innovative adaptations which may be created by museum personnel based on our method. In order to discuss the workshop delivery terms and conditions, please write to:
We adapt the beautiful old photographs from the collection of the Cracow-based Museum of History of Photography selected by Magdalena Skrejko using our very own MT3D method. It consists in developing a multi-layer artistic representation of a given photo, a simplification when compared with the original yet more interpretable when touched. A description and audio description accompanying the photo emphasise its uniqueness, anchor it in time and discuss its historical context. On this website, persons who are partially sighted and/or elderly can see the photo while blind visitors can read its description and listen to its audio description. The physical photo adaptations executed using the MT3D method can be found at the Museum of History of Photography in Krakow, where they can be appreciated by touch.
The Światłoryt/Light Relief project wins yet another partner: the European Solidarity Centre of Gdańsk. The collection of photographs from the institution, important for Poland's history, is initiated by an adaptation of Chris Niedenthal's 1989 photograph entitled “Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki” showing him just after his government was voted in by the Polish Parliament. Next year, as part of the MOFFIN's longterm cooperation with the Centre, successive adaptations of universal nature are going to be developed, making it possible for sighted and blind persons to meet in the very same museum space. The Światłoryt/Light Relief project opens our eyes on art regardless of sight difficulties. Does any of you make out en eagle on the balustrade on the photo taken by Chris Niedenthal? If so, have a look at what is on the eagle. You cannot see it? If so, read our photo description. We wish you good fun, learning and emotional moments with history.
Light Relief has also partners in the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Cracow and the Stanislaw Lem Garden of Experiences. These are fascinating places open to all, where exhibits on display can be touched and interesting phenomena experienced, while guides are on hand to provide additional information. We hope that the selection of exhibits presented here will encourage the visitors to go and see these two venues in person.
Exhibits on display in Stanislaw Lem Garden of Experiences, a branch of the Museum of Municipal Engineering in Krakow: