Dedd Pixel

Tag: paintings

Virtual Art Museums

by on Feb.01, 2011, under Art

In art school, we often looked at images of artwork in books or copies displayed on the screen from a projector.  These often left me wanting.  The images were poorly reproduced; often they were in black and white or blurry.  Rarely, did they accurately or even remote convey the original art piece in any appreciable detail.  I felt that what was needed was a giant database of art works that were digitally copied in high resolution, enabling instructors and students access to these images and giving them the ability to zoom in and out and get a true sense of the details: the size, the paint strokes, etc.

Leave it to Google.

The Google Art Project enables the online viewer to not only view individual art pieces on the screen but gives them the opportunity to zoom in, viewing the intricate details, the brushstrokes, the crackling, the nuances of an artist’s work.  In addition to viewing the artwork itself, Google has also implemented a ‘street-view’ of several art museums so ‘visitors’ can tour the museums from the comfort of their own home.  While nothing can compare to experience of viewing an artwork in person (I never knew Van Eyck’s paintings were so small), the street view can help give a sense of the scale of the artwork and experience how it is displayed at the museum and its relation to art displayed around it.

This is a good start but has room to grow.  I’d like to be able to click on the artwork from the ‘street-view’ and then be able to explore the artwork, read the informational plaque, and maybe even impulsively buy a poster of it from the gift shop.  It could link to books on Amazon or to a local library search about the artwork.  It could include a way to find essays or blog posts that talk about the piece or a way to find other works by the same author, in similar styles or related in other ways.

What about three-dimensional art, such as sculptures.  A painting is two-dimensional and is more reasonable to experience from a two-dimensional computer screen, but how do we experience a three dimensional object?  Will there be 3D renderings in the future?  Complete with graphical skins that accurately convey the texture and blemishes of stone, bronze, or otherwise?  Will we need 3D glasses to fully experience a sculpture or do we need to wait until virtual reality is a reality?

Time will tell.

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