Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bringing Art to Art Lovers Through Technology

You may be a person who loves art and knows what it feels like to be mesmerized by a work of art. You may know what it is like to swim in a pool of colours, to glance behind the lines, to be transported to a totally different world as soon as you set eyes on a work of art that speaks to you. You may have devoured, gaped and stared longingly at the huge books on art that your library stocked and remember every minute detail mentioned in these books. But it is not always possible to access or view these masterpieces (maybe you cannot take a trip to the museum on the other side of the world or maybe you just aren't allowed to see them). Would it surprise you if I said that technology has the answer?

From the article "Google brings masterpieces from Prado direct to armchair art lovers"

The Madrid museum and the internet search giant today unveil the first use of Google's mapping programme to allow art lovers to get so close to their favourite paintings that even the brush strokes are visible.

"It allows people to see the main masterworks in the museum as they never have done before," the museum said. "You can see details that the human eye alone is unable to see."

Fourteen of the Prado's masterpieces – including works by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez and Hieronymus Bosch – can be seen online in almost microscopic detail. The technology allows internet users to fly across the surface of the canvases, homing in on details that would be invisible to the naked eye if they visited the Madrid gallery in person.

The Google Earth images have a resolution of 14,000 megapixels, some 1,400 times greater than a picture taken on a standard 10 megapixel camera. They were sewn together digitally from more than 8,000 high-resolution photographs of sections of the paintings.

A behind-the-scenes video of how this project was made possible and its outcome:



Meanwhile, in India, another project has allowed for the display of the inaccessible Chola murals from the Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur.

Via Frontline
IN a remarkable feat performed in the face of overwhelming odds, two officers of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and a young photographer have photographed in minute detail four huge frescoes found in the Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. What makes their work all the more creditable is the difficult location of the murals, their enormous size and their reflecting surface, all of which posed big challenges.

If most visitors had hitherto no access to these paintings because of their location, they can now relish the paintings' exact photographic reproductions, which are on display at the newly opened Interpretation Centre on the temple premises.

Satyamurthy said: "The ASI, Chennai Circle, therefore, undertook a project to photograph the murals, prepare photographic reproductions and display them in almost their true size and original colours. This effort required special techniques because of paucity of space, poor lighting and the enormous size of the murals. They had to be photographed in many small frames and then joined to make one frame. This effort needed high skill."

Sriraman said: "What is seen in the paintings is seen in the frames. We have assembled the photographs without loss of perspective. Anybody can see the paintings in their original dimensions in our photographs." He explained why the ASI decided to go public with the paintings: "Documentation is important because people of the next generation should know that these paintings existed. Recopying is important. In photography, you get accurate reproduction."
Read about how the photographs were taken and the importance of these photographs for art-historians as well as the general public.

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