Google Art Project

I find searching for online art frustrating. Most of the websites are commercial, and that is not surprising. Should any readers know of sites that are good just for viewing art, please leave comments. For the future, however, the Google Art Project1 bodes well. Google is using its “street view” technology. Frankly, I was freaked when I first saw my neighbor’s house when I did directions on Google. I have tried a few “virtual galleries” in the past, but have been disappointed. Navigating them was difficult and the art seemed to loose quality.

Google promises to remedy these shortcomings. The “street view” technology allows the viewer to stroll through a gallery or museum and browse. But the viewer can choose to zoom in on pieces of interest. A gigapixel process is employed. On average, there are 7 billion pixels per image. This is a thousand times more than the average digital camera. In the digitized version of Whistler’s “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain” it is possible to see the faintest trace of white paint Whistler used to make his subject’s eyes glisten, as well as the nubby, gridlike texture of the canvas. Clearly, Google is offering a much more vivid rendering of online art than has been previously available.

Julian Raby, the Director of the Freer Gallery said that “the giga-pixel experience brings us very close to the essence of the artist that simply can’t be seen in the gallery.” Brian Kennedy, the Director of the Toledo Museum of Art, said that these giga-pixel images can bring out details that might not be visible to ordinary museum-goers in a gallery, but that scholars would still want a three-dimensional view of art.

Kennicott, the author of the Washington Post article, gave the technology a mixed review. During the walk-through images often appeared to be washed out and grainy. Navigation also presented some problems. I think that Google is working on these problems.

So far Google has teamed up with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Gallery in New York, the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art in DC, as well as museums in London, Madrid, Moscow, Amsterdam, Florence, Berlin, and St. Petersburg (Russia).

The Google Art Project is currently available, although it does require perseverance and the clicking on links on multiple menus. Go to google.com. Click the “more” link. Then click “even more”. Then click “labs”. Then you should find the Art Project Powered by Google. There is a video, click on learn more, explaining how to use the Google Art Project. You have the capability of saving paintings and building your own collection. We’re anxious to hear your comments and opinions.

1Kennicott, J.P. National Treasures: Google Art Project Unlocks Riches of World’s Galleries. February 2 Style Section, C1. also Washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/01/AR2011020106321_pf.html 

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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