Breaking New Ground: Computational Tools for Art Scholarship

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.

Computer processing of scientific images of artworks—using algorithms from engineering applications—has advanced rapidly over the past decade. These tools have allowed researchers to more clearly identify authenticity and dating, while also shedding light on artists’ original intentions. Rick Johnson, the Geoffrey S. M. Hedrick Senior Professor of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, at Cornell University, and Paul Messier, Pritzker Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Lens Media Lab at Yale University, discuss their groundbreaking collaborative work that combines expertise from the worlds of signal processing and art conservation.

Johnson introduces a range of applications based on matching manufactured patterns in art supports, including those of canvases used by van Gogh and Vermeer as well as the laid paper for Rembrandt’s etchings. Messier demonstrates how this work is put into practice in his pursuit to characterize the “genome” of twentieth-century photography.

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