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 low vision and blind individuals as they felt works in the exhibition, including one of my figurative sculptures. As a member was describing my work through the sense of touch, she was assembling forms in her mind, but 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 a sculpture, inspired by how both groups “see.” During the Fall 2021, and Spring 2022 semesters, students from Penn State College of Engineering/Learning Factory Capstone Design Program, former Studio for Sustainability for Social Action administrative project manager, Dr. Alexandra Allen, and I, worked with three low vision/ blind volunteers to design a haptic, virtual reality glove. The device developed in Spring 22 uses tactile feedback to additively, or reductively, sculpt in virtual space. Movements made in this space get translated as three- dimensional marks, rooted in the VIP’s authorship, that can be 3D printed. These small 3D printed objects are not an end point, but rather a springboard that both groups use as a model to create a new collaborative form, made at an entirely different scale and with different materials. It is very unlikely what would be translated in real space would parallel what was originally “air sculpted” by the VIP. At first glance, this may appear to be a failure, yet iterations between what is imagined in the mind vs. what can be produced through the hand, lead to new insight. Within these slippages, collaborators begin to negotiate, communicate, and offer their tacit knowledge 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. "VIP” stands for visually impaired person, the preferred term used by the Sight Loss Support Group of Central PA "Together, Tacit" was conceived by Bonnie Collura in 2018. Device design began in 2021. The 2022 design is the phenomenal feat of four incredible engineer students from Penn State University: Noah Black (PSU Computer Engineering 2022), Catherine McAllister (PSU Biomedical Engineering 2022), Luke Sargen (PSU Mechanical Engineering 2022), Alberto Toledano (PSU Industrial Engineering 2022), under the mentorship of Paul W. Mittan, Director Engineering Leadership Development, PSU College of Engineering. DEVICE: 2022 version developed by: Noah Black (Computer Engineering), Catherine McAllister (Biomedical Engineering), Luke Sargen (Mechanical Engineering), Alberto Toledano (Industrial Engineering), with guidance from Michelle McManus, Laura Schaffer, and Charlie Walizer. HARDWARE: the haptic glove enhances accessibility through its unique tactile feedback system which makes it possible for low vision individuals to express themselves freely in space. The primary components of the glove are stretchable fabric flex sensors, haptic drivers and motors, and a battery circuit. The gloves have the potential to run wirelessly, over bluetooth. SOFTWARE: Unity, a cross platform gaming engine, was used to create the VR program. The group began with an Oculus Rift and shifted into the newer, Oculus Quest. The program provides the choice of a sphere, or a cube for the user to begin with. From there, the user can access different sculpting functions- on/off, carving, and addition of material. With virtual reality, many different sculpting tools can be added, making the sculpting experience truly limitless.

bottom of page