Can Blind People See Art with their Tongue?

Will the blind soon be able to taste the Mona Lisa?

With the advent of some revolutionary new technology, blind people are now able to process images sent directly to the brain-from their tongues!

Although we have very little understanding of how our brains work, it would seem that our brains are adept at fixing problems we once thought impossible. For example, replacing our the broken rods and cones from our eyes with the taste receptors and nerves of our tongues. The body and brain are incredibly adaptable and while we often think of sight and hearing as our two most important senses, our other senses are able to pick up the slack and our brains take care of the rest. 

So now with the help of a new device, blind people are becoming able to actually process visual information through the nerves on the tongue through small electrical shocks. Don't worry though, while it sounds painful, it actually feels more like "soda bubbles" on the tongue. What's amazing though is that the brain is able to take the way a visual image feels on our tongue and translates that information to the brain. Then the brain handles the rest.

Here's How It Works

This new revolutionary device is called the BrainPort System, created by Wisconsin based company Wicam Inc. The device looks like a pair of glasses with a camera on them connected to a hand held device and a sensor that looks like a small pad/wafer that sits on the tongue. The camera pixelates what it sees and transfers the image to the hand unit. The hand unit then translates the image and sends that information to the tongue sensor. The sensor then sends small shocks to the nerves in the tongue.


The device works on a system of "sensory substitution". The brain is able to process that the shocks have nothing to do with taste and reroutes them to the visual center of the brain to process and interpret what the camera sees. Although the brain is only able to produce a rudimentary image, the brain can process it just the way that it would as if it were getting the information from the person's own eyes.


What This Means for Art

So what does this mean for art? That blind people will finally be able to experience the beauty in our world, the art created by man, and of course, create art for themselves. Blindness affects over 1 million adults over the age of 40 in the USA, many of them losing sight over time. Artists who have lost their sight and ability to paint coherently will be able to paint, draw and sculpt again. Currently the device is still being developed and the current model runs for about $15,000. The images the BrainPort System creates still looks very pixelated, however, soon, technology, mixed with the power of the brain and the taste buds on the tongue, could bring about an art revolution by people who have never been able to properly experience it as a visual medium. 


5 Artistic Ways to Relieve Stress During the Holidays

Don't Let the Stress of the Season Get You Down!


We know how busy and stressful this time of year can get, and here at Jerry's we only really have one response to the stress- Art.

While the amount of parties, gifts to buy for people, travel and end-of-the-year work that piles up this time of the year, art can often be the one thing that keeps us all sane. We have talked before about how coloring can lower stress levels and can be used therapeutically. Art as therapy encourages creativity and self expression which can increase personal awareness, self esteem and take your mind off of everything else going on. One of the best parts about art therapy is that you don't have to be an artist to do it. So here are a few easy suggestions to relieve stress this holiday season with art!

 1. Make a holiday zentangle

Zentangles have been a popular way to sketch and doodle for awhile now and while it has very specific rules to be in black and white, switch them up to more fun colors like red and green. This will give you a fun and festive piece of art that will put you back in the mood to enjoy the holidays again.

2. Make your own holiday postcards

While many people send out generic christmas cards or postcards of their family, why don't you send out a holiday postcard that is truly personal and creative. This year, design your own postcards with colored pencils, markers, or acrylic paints. This activity gives you a creative outlet to express your feelings to your loved ones, a beautiful postcard to send and a way to make someone else's holidays a little more special.

3. Make and design your own Dreidel 

This one is fun for adults and kids. An easy project with simple directions. Find a pattern like the one above, color or add your own fun design, put a straw or pencil on top and spin. 

4. Reflect and draw a portrait of your past self

The holidays are often a time of reflection, so take the time and find a picture or portrait of yourself from a year ago or so and draw or paint a new version of the image. Think back over your year and focus on how you've grown as a person.

5.Color in a holiday coloring book

A great way to relieve stress and take some quiet time for yourself is just to color. Stay in the lines or draw outside of them. Find a more festive coloring book to keep you in the spirit and to keep you calm. It will make you think more pleasantly about the holidays and allow you to express your creativity. 


10 Unique Art Holiday Gifts Artists Want More Than a Tacky Sweater

Find the best and most unique holiday art gifts of the year at Jerry's Artarama 

Forget the typical holiday gifts this year and make an artist's holiday truly memorable with some Jerry's exclusives full of new items that will transform the way they do art. 


1. The Rue Wall Easel


The perfect gift for the artist without a lot of space, the Rue Wall Easel fits any wall. It requires zero floor space, comes in 3 different sizes and slides out to a 70 degree angle so it's just as functional as most free standing easels. It is made from a beautiful furniture-grade hardwoods so after you finish painting, you can display your painting right there on the easel. 


2. Acurit Light Pad


If you're looking to get started in drawing or working on something more technical and need to resize a sketch, schematic or drawing, the Acurit Light Tablet makes a great gift. It was voted Jerry's 2014 product of the year too! Portable and incredibly useful, it's a great tool for improving your drawing. 


3. Free Shipping Art Gift Sets



Jerry's has a wide variety of art sets that would make an amazing gift for everyone from beginning artists to the most skilled pros. Whether you're looking for an intro set to watercolors or an oil set with every color of oil paints, Jerry's has it. And the best part? All sets ship for free this holiday season!


4. Eternity Archival Clamshell Art Storage Boxes


If you have to store your art and are tired of it building up dust on your shelves, the eternity clamshell boxes might be just what you need. They are durable and made from acid-free materials and are available in a variety of sizes. It's sophisticated but subtle  design makes it a great portfolio for sharing your art at shows or displaying. 


5. First Impressions Children's Creativity Center


Perfect for kids aged 3 and up and great for getting your son or daughter started out right with art at an early age, the First Impressions  Children's Creativity Center is a great choice for kids! Easily height adjustable and with many accessories for kids to store their favorite art supplies, kids will have a blast at these colorful art desks. 


6. Home Art Studio


Speaking of fun gifts for kids, The Home Art Studio educational DVDs make a great gift for the crafty kid. With grade appropriate material and lessons geared towards elementary school aged children, these DVDs have hours of art filled content for tons of fun. This year, they even came out with a holiday themed DVD for making holiday crafts year round.


7. Chelsea Classical Mediums


Made from safer materials than most oil painting mediums, Chelsea Classical Mediums make a great choice for anyone not painting outside. With a nice lavender smell, they are free of the harmful toxic-smelling varnishes and mineral spirits that plague most oil painters looking to thin or preserve their paints. Handmade from natural materials like linseed oil and lavender spike oil, they make great gifts for anyone who truly cares about their oil paintings. 


8. eGift Cards


This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but e-Gift cards make great gifts and it would be wrong to leave it off of the list this year. Save yourself the work, let them pick what they want and it's still a very special gift. First of all, you can attach any amount of money to the card so give as much as you'd like. Next, you can pick from a variety of fun holiday designs to make your electronic gift even more fun. And the best part is that they can be sent instantly to anyone's electronic mail box so it makes a great last minute gift too. 


9. SoHo Easels


SoHo Urban Artists Easels are the only free standing easels that operate like a great working email, but are beautifully built to look like a display easel. Available in either an A-frame style or a H-frame style, SoHo Easels look great in every home and are adjustable to make painting incredibly enjoyable.


10. Union Square Drawing Pads


if you're shopping and just looking for a simple gift, a Union Square Drawing pad might be everything you're looking for. Made with heavy-duty drawing paper, mixed media drawing paper or incredibly smooth paper, these pads are perfect for sitting down inside on a cold day and just sketching your heart out. 

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