Thursday, February 03, 2011

Google Art Project

This is quite possibly one of the coolest things to hit the internet in a long time. Google has used their mapping technology to explore the world of museum art. If you've been on Google Maps you know that you can zoom from a satellite map of the entire country right down to your own backyard. A few years ago Google also came out with Street View where you can take a little "man" icon, place him on the map you're looking at and "viola" see photographs of the actual street from the map. Now imagine if you took that technology indoors. Instead of dealing with hundreds of miles and streets with moving vehicles you instead train the cameras and computers on paintings and sculptures in some of the most prestigious museums in the world. What you'd have is the Art Project, powered by Google. The site has access to 17 different museums including the Tate Modern in London and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. There are thousands of works of art rendered in ultra high resolution. For example, call up Rembrant's Night Watch. You will see the entire painting displayed. Now use the zoom controls to get a closer look. Zoom in until you can see the master's brushstrokes. Zoom in until you can see the cracks in the paint caused by the ravages of time. Zoom in until you are looking at a single eye of one of the painted figures. If you were standing in the museum you couldn't get close enough to see this kind of detail. This is an amazing project that will help bring fine art to the digital generation.

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