top of page

Tacit knowing is a manifestation of knowledge that each of us possesses based on emotion, experiences, intuition, and observations. It is a skill set that is not learned explicitly, but rather through the act of doing. In May 2018, I participated in a tour at the Palmer Museum’s Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials exhibition with the Sight Loss Support Group of Central PA and stood beside visually impaired individuals as they felt works in the exhibition, including one of my figurative sculptures. As a member was describing my work through her sense of touch, I did not know how to bridge into her visualization. It was at this moment when I became very interested in developing a project where the sighted, and the visually impaired, could work together to make artwork, inspired by how both groups “see.” Between 2021 and 2023, students from Penn State College of Engineering and I worked with visually impaired volunteers to design a haptic, virtual reality glove. The device developed between 2021-22 used tactile feedback to simulate sculpting in virtual space. The 2023 device allows each finger to receive a vibration independently. When a user’s hand is idle, no sensation is felt. When a finger curls down farther, the sensation increases. A flex sensor, located at the palm, engages when the user contacts the virtual block and increases in frequency the deeper the user goes into the material. Controls allow for the user to add, subtract, and change the diameter of sculpted material. The virtual shapes that are made from VIP “air sculpting” become 3D prints, and function as a tangible sketch that visually impaired and sighted teams can translate in entirely new forms, with different materials. Collaborators begin to negotiate, communicate, and experience through the art making process to create a form, that neither group, the sighted or visually impaired, could have built without the other. In this way, “Together, Tacit” aims to create a shared language that knits a meeting place between what we see, and how we know, through acts of experiencing, together. Volunteer acknowledgments: tremendous gratitude for guidance by our visually impaired volunteers: Glenn Black, Josie Cantor, Michelle McManus, Laura Shaffer, and Charlie Walitzer. 2023 device acknowledgments: The highly developed 2023 device is the phenomenal feat of seven incredible engineer students from Penn State University: Isaac Arbelaez Venegas (PSU Mechanical Engineering, Engineering Science 2025), Levi Baokbah (PSU Electrical Engineering 2023), Rachel Bautz (PSU Industrial Engineering 2023), Yuanlin Cen (PSU Engineering Science 2025), Juliana Dominick (PSU Biomedical Engineering 2023, team leader), Zachary How (PSU Mechanical Engineering 2023), and Christine Palmer (PSU Computer Science 2024). This team is responsible for increasing the functionality of the device, redesigning the glove and hardware casing, developing a dynamic range of haptic sensations and code, and establishing streamlined, user-friendly instructions and packaging. They were mentored by Paul Mittan, PSU Director of Engineering Leadership Development, Professor of Practice. Funding possible by Penn State College of Arts and Architecture. 2022 device acknowledgments: The 2022 device is attributed to four exceptional engineering students from Penn State University: Noah Black (PSU Computer Engineering 2022, team leader), Catherine McAllister (PSU Biomedical Engineering 2022), Luke Sargen (PSU Mechanical Engineering 2022), and Alberto Toledano (PSU Industrial Engineering 2022). This team is responsible for developing 5 haptic motors from the 2021 device and syncing the hardware with the VR software. They were mentored by Paul W. Mittan, PSU Director of Engineering Leadership Development, Professor of Practice. Funding possible by Penn State Studio for Sustainability and Social Action.

bottom of page