Tactile version of "Lucania '61" by Carlo Levi / Versione tattile del telero "Lucania '61" di Carlo Levi

Aim of the project is the realization of the tactile version of "Lucania '61", the canvas that Carlo Levi painted to describe the Basilicata region and to honor his Lucanian friend Rocco Scotellaro. The large canvas (18.50 meters x 3.20 meters), commissioned by the Committee for the Centenary Celebrations of the Unification of Italy to represent Basilicata at the Italia 61 exhibition (Turin, May 1961), is kept in the Levi Room of the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art in Matera.
Visually impaired and blind people can access the haptic perception of contours and shapes represented in the canvas and, at the same time, a key for understanding the correspondeces between high/low reliefs - labeled with Braille letters - and the corresponding legend is available. This makes accessible an artwork of the artistic heritage of our country. The 3D model for the tactile version will be printed and exhibited in Matera.

Lucania '61 by Carlo Levi
“Lucania ’61” by Carlo Levi, image from Il Telero di Carlo Levi da Torino un viaggio nella Questione Meridionale, Ed . Il Rinnovamento, 2015.

This artwork represents the life of the poet Rocco Scotellaro in three fundamental moments: in the center, adolescent Scotellaro; on the right, adult Scotellaro in Piazza Tricarico; on the left, Scotellaro lies deceased in a cave, with various characters afflicted by the loss. The scenes are inspired by Lucanian everyday life, and many of them are inspired by Mario Carbone's photos.
Here is one of the photos taken by Mario Carbone and the corresponding character painted by Carlo Levi in “Lucania ‘61”:

Photo taken by Mario Carbone   Character painted by Carlo Levi

The adaptation of the artwork is part of the thesis project of Roberto Nour for his Bachelor degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering (University of Pavia, a.y. 2018/2019) under the supervisor of prof. Virginio Cantoni, and with the collaboration of Luca Lombardi and Alessandra Setti. The realization of the 3D model is made by Massimiliano Pini, while the 3D printed version for tactile reading is by Stefania Marconi.

Here are the followed steps:
1) Starting from the image of the original canvas, using a software for the elaboration of digital images, the contours of characters, objects and landscapes have been extracted, applying a segmentation technique - DOG (Difference Of Gaussian) - that allows to highlight details of different sizes, and a specific layer has been created (Contours).

Contours Lucania '61 by Carlo Levi

Contours right part Lucania '61 by Carlo Levi
The right part contours (different colours to be associated to different levels)

2) The following phase has been the identification of the characters/segments to be highlighted, filling their contour in green color (bucket tool of the image processing software); the remaining part has been left white, at a lowest level (Characters in relief).

Characters in relief Lucania '61 by Carlo Levi

3) The relevant characters/segments have been labeled using Braille characters, in order to allow blind people to find a correspondence between the associated key-legend and the touched contour. The labels have been designed to be as intuitive as possible: each group of characters (politicians, men, women, children, animals, etc.) are identified with a group of Braille letters which generally have a common structural motif (Braille insertion).

Relieves with Braille left part Lucania '61 by Carlo Levi
The left part (characters in relief - in green - and Braille letters)

4) After this step, the levels that will be differentiated in the printing phase have been created, so allowing haptic perception of what is depicted in the canvas:
  • Level 0: background;
  • Level 1: contours of empty characters and their Braille letters;
  • Level 2: full characters and their Braille letters (Characters in relief with Braille);
  • Level 3: contours of full characters.

5) A software for 3D modeling is used to realize the structure that will be printed in 3D.

6) The last step is to adapt the realized 3D model to the 3D printer that will be used to produce the tactile version of the canvas.