Photographer Lisa Murphy believed the blind lacked access to our "much sexualised" world, so she decided to create a new kind of pornography, with tactile images, the first designed especially for the blind.
"When I had the idea, I started looking around and I realised there were no nude books out there for the blind," the Canadian artist told AFP.
"We live in a society that is much sexualised - just look at advertising," she said by telephone from her Toronto home. "But if you can't see then you are probably not aware of how sexualised it is."
"And I believe that vision-impaired people have been (wrongly) left out of the experience."
Anyone can find it erotic
"Of course, anyone can find it erotic, not just the vision-impaired," Murphy added.
The book, entitled "Tactile Mind," features pages made of thermoform plastic - the same material used for Braille.
Each page contains raised images of naked men and women in various poses, some wearing masks or in suggestive bondage, along with titillating phrases in Braille.
Murphy photographed friends in costumes and masks, in part to convince them to participate.
"It's so much easier to get someone to take off their clothes in front of a camera if they're non-identifiable," Murphy said of the mask. She is herself also featured in the book. "I couldn't expect anyone to do it if I wasn't a part of it too."
Pictures to sculptures
She then transformed the pictures into fine sculptures - a process that took more than 50 hours per image. Each book costs 222 US dollars (R1,630).
The pages are held together by a simple spiral binding which allows the 17 diagrams to be read on a flat surface or removed.
Individual images with explicit descriptions are also available for order from her website, www.tactilemindbook.com.
Murphy, a former volunteer at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, told AFP she picked up the necessary skills for the unique book by transforming images of animals for children's educational books.
Blind proofreader found mistakes
After the first run, "some of the smallest things had to be redone, like a wrist or an ankle or a buttock or a hip to make them more fluid. It was things I couldn't see, but my blind proofreader felt," she said.
The book was first released two years ago, but has received new attention in the wake of an article last Sunday in a Toronto daily that was picked up by media worldwide.
"Pornographic magazine for the blind launched," declared Britain’s Telegraph newspaper. "Porn you can
touch," shouted a New York Daily News headline the next day.
"I'd been dragging it around to erotic fairs for the last two years," Murphy commented. "It was a labor of love and I never expected to make any money from it."
The first 64 signed copies were sold or gifted to "sighted and vision-impaired" buyers alike. The recent media coverage has caused a sudden spike in demand, according to Murphy, who said she was preparing for a "busy weekend" filling orders.
Several visually-impaired people who reviewed the book for various Canadian and US media suggested it was interesting, but not titillating.
"Some peole find it erotic, some think it's high fetish, and some have called it pornographic, but for me pornographic is intercourse. So for me, it was a 'nudie book,'" Murphy said. - (Sapa/AFP, April 2010)