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Archive for the 'Innovative Technology' Category

AIC’s Turning the Pages


The Art Institute of Chicago has an extensive resource called Turning the Pages, which utilizes software developed by the British Museum to present fully digitized book-reader objects of select objects in the AIC’s collection. Images can be also zoomed in to view details. So far, 30 objects from various departments in the AIC’s collection and library have been rendered in this software:

Several of the Art Institute of Chicago’s most unique and important artist sketchbooks, manuscripts and rare printed items are now available online. Viewers may page through or zoom in to look closely at the bound volumes, prints, and handscroll paintings from the Department of Prints and Drawings, the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, and the Department of Asian Art.

You’ll need to have Microsoft Silverlight enabled on your computer to use Turning the Pages software. If you don’t have it, it can be downloaded for free here.

For more information, visit the AIC’s Interpretive Resource page for Turning the Pages objects.

Via ARTicle

Image from Presentation copy of Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Le Chef d’oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece), 1931.

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New Website for the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project

Nine Dragons, Digital Srolling Paintings Project

The Center for the Art of East Asia has recently announced the launch of a new and improved website for the digital handscroll paintings project:

One of the major types of traditional East Asian painting, the handscroll, or horizontal scroll, is meant to be appreciated by unrolling and viewing it section-by-section as a continuous composition. Unfortunately, the temporal and participatory aspects of viewing handscrolls cannot be readily experienced today, as the original paintings are far too valuable and fragile to be handled frequently. When shown in museums, they are always placed in glass cases and are seldom displayed in their entirety. For students and specialists seeking to view them, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain access to these important cultural materials. Beyond the rare opportunities to experience them in person, they are primarily known through static, fragmentary images in slides and as photographs in books. Fortunately, the digital medium has offered the potential for much greater exposure to these works of art, simulating the interactive viewing experience for which they were originally designed. The Center for the Art of East Asia (CAEA)at the University of Chicago has teamed with the Visual Resources Center (VRC) and Humanities Research Computing to develop this innovative digital presentation. Initially used as a course website, we are also developing it as a resource for teaching and research at other universities and for museum archiving and exhibition. The digital scrolling paintings website is a multi-functional tool that allows users to move through the scrolls and view elements of the painting in high resolution, with colophons, signatures, and seals of artists and collectors, and also to examine their media, materiality, and techniques of production. This is a means to fuller understanding of a work both in its details and as a composite of its many elements.

Digital technology presents these paintings as continuous scrolling images and offers various kinds of user interfaces such as auto-scrolling, zooming, and comparison. The newly designed website has more paintings accessible for public viewing and enhanced functions for searching, text annotations, and links to related material. We are continuing to add paintings to the public website and partnering with other institutions with a goal to create a more extensive public database of these invaluable works of art. We will include more rare works, Japanese painting, and calligraphy. The project has negotiated agreements to show paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Palace Museum, Beijing, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago.

To learn more, visit the Digital Scrolling Paintings Project.

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The Story of the Beautiful: Virtual Tours of Whistler’s “Peacock Room”

Peacock Room Detroit

A collaborative website—The Story of the Beautiful: Freer, Whistler, and Their Points of Contact—between the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Wayne State University presents a virtual tour of James McNeil Whistler (1834–1903)’s Peacock Room. Users are given the option to visit the room as it existed in London in 1876 or as it appeared after Charles Lang Freer moved the room to Detroit and reassembled it there in 1908. In addition to panning through the 3D interior space of the room, users can click on individual objects for more information as well as supplementary content including maps, timelines, and archival material from the Charles Lang Freer Papers. The team behind the website describes their project:

The site thus functions both as a digital archive and as an immersive virtual environment in which users can explore the room, learn about the objects it has contained, and see how the places and faces associated with the room contributed to its history. Anchored by the two virtual tours, the site offers users a deeply contextualized way to navigate the collections: some 400 digital objects, among them the room itself, the objects it has contained, as well as archival materials such as photographs, bills of sale, and correspondence.

In addition to exploring the Peacock Room virtually, users can browse the obects in the collection and digitized content from the archives separately. For more information, visit the website.

Via ArtDaily.

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The Art Institute of Chicago’s Indoor GPS App

Ever find yourself lost and aimlessly wandering around the Art Institute of Chicago?

Now there’s an app for that.

The Art Institute announced Wednesday that it’s the first museum in the world to create a free “indoor GPS app” to make art more accessible to locals, out-of-towners and those who simply can’t find their way around a Degas painting or a Rodin sculpture.

The app provides customized tours that take guests on journeys through the museum. Tours are organized by occasions (such as a first date, family outing), theme (Chicago artists, fashion in art, etc.) and collections (American folk art, contemporary art, African art). Tours are also organized by time, whether guests plan on spending an entire day or just a few hours.


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Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition Catalogues (1870–1939) Now Online

Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition Catalogue Search

The Royal Academy of Arts has digitized and made freely available their Winter loan exhibition catalogs from the program’s beginning in 1879 to 1939. These exhibitions typically consisted of works by Old Masters or recently deceased British artists and later expanded to include surveys of European and Persian art.

The exhibition catalogs have been made available on the Royal Academy of Art’s collections search page where they can be browsed or searched for terms including artists, titles, and lenders. The catalogs included in this project present essays by several prominent art historians of the early 19th century as well as reproductions of the 3,000 artworks included in the exhibitions. Thumbnail images of artworks have been included with links to the related pages from the institutional repositories where the objects are held, many of which are now held in collections such as the Tate, the National Gallery or Ireland, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Wallace Collection. The Royal Academy has also digitized related installation photographs to provide historical context for the exhibitions.

For more information, visit the Royal Academy of Arts Collections page here or browse the collection here.

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Art Resources from the Mid-20th Century

Forbidden art in the Third Reich: paintings by German artists whose work was banned from museums and forbidden to exhibit (1945?)

The Guggenheim and Whitney Libraries have collaborated to digitize selections from the personal libraries of Hilla Rebay and Juliana, the inaugural directors of the museums, respectively. The digital library—Art Resources from the Mid-20th Century: Digitized Highlights from the Libraries of Hilla Rebay and Juliana Force—is available publicly via the Internet Archive. They describe how the collections were developed by Rebay and Force, female museum directors whose institutions were both founded in the 1930s:

Each woman acquired a considerable library during her tenure, collecting materials ranging from the uncommon (gallery announcements from New York and beyond, as well as rare and unusual periodicals and books) to the required reading of the day (exhibition catalogs and major monographs on contemporary artists). These important resources influenced the two women, who in turn influenced the vision and development of their respective institutions, which remain integral to the city’s cultural life today.

The museum libraries digitized selected volumes from each collection to display the materials together online, which helps highlight the similarities and differences between each collection. The Internet Archive, which hosts the collection, offers robust functionality including cataloging data, and the ability to view the fully digitized materials online in a book reader software or to download as a PDF of e-book reader file, including EPUB and Kindle.

To visit the project collection page for Art Resources from the Mid-20th Century: Digitized Highlights from the Libraries of Hilla Rebay and Juliana Force, click here. For more information, please also explore project summaries from the Guggenheim and the Whitney.

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MoMA’s “Inventing Abstraction” Website and Exhibition

MoMA recently opened a new exhibition, Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, and this ground-breaking survey is accompanied by an equally ground-breaking website. The exhibition takes a multidisciplinary look at the development of abstraction and as such:

The exhibition brings together many of the most influential works in abstraction’s early history and covers a wide range of artistic production, including paintings, drawings, books, sculptures, films, photographs, sound poems, atonal music, and non-narrative dance, to draw a cross-media portrait of these watershed years.

In the October, ARTnews reported that the Leah Dickerman, curator of the exhibition, was collaborating with Paul Ingram of Columbia University’s business school because he specializes in social network analysis. Dickerman wanted to visually display connections and friendships among the artists and creators involved in the genesis of abstraction, and she and her team, along with their business school partners, began mapping connections in an Excel spreadsheet. The project then turned into a dynamic network of artists and other creative types connected by vectors. They liken the project to a Facebook or LinkedIn network for the abstract vanguard.


In the ARTnews article, Paul Ingram “explains that the quality of ‘between-ness’ in the network—being on multiple paths between others—is associated with creativity. According to this measure, he says, Kandinsky is the most central figure in MoMA’s history of abstraction.” The interactive chart highlights key players in red, and for each artist represented on the chart, more information about their role, interests, and works is provided.

And as an aside, the ARTnews article mentions several other charts or family trees that had been created to document relationships (either sincerely or snarkily) in modern art movements—be sure to check out the very famous Barr’s Chart! These genealogical charts differ greatly from the social vectors described in the new MoMA chart, but provided the initial inspiration for the website’s diagram. Another “genealogical” example comes from the Irving Penn Archives, housed at the Art Institute of Chicago: Penn drew an a family tree, titled “An Immodest Claim to Artistic Roots,” in which he lists several of the artists included in MoMA’s Inventing Abstraction exhibition including Fernand Léger, El Lissitzky, and Man Ray. You can view his tree here.

The VRC will be adding images from the exhibition to our LUNA collection soon!

Via ARTnews

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The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

The Google Cultural Institute and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem collaborated to bring five complete Dead Sea Scrolls online. The new digital library (released Tuesday, December 18), allows users to study and discover the the most ancient biblical manuscripts on earth:

The website gives searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The scroll text is also discoverable via web search. If you search for a phrase from the scrolls, a link to that text within the scroll may surface in your search results. For example, try searching on Google for [And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb Dead Sea Scroll].

The Great Isiah Scroll

English translations of the manuscripts are also available. The Google Cultural Institute is also responsible for the Art Project as well as other digital humanities projects, including Versailles 3D and La France en relief. For the Dead Sea Scrolls project, they used imaging technology originally developed for NASA. The scrolls weren’t discovered until 1947, and they had been in the Qumran caves for two thousand years. ArtDaily reports:

The parchment and papyrus scrolls contain Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic script, and include several of the earliest-known texts from the Bible, including the oldest surviving copy of the Ten Commandments. The oldest of the documents dates to the third century BC and the most recent to about 70 AD, when Roman troops destroyed the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The artefacts are housed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where the larger pieces are shown at the dimly lit Shrine of the Book on a rotational basis in order to minimise damage from exposure. When not on show, they are kept in a dark, climate-controlled storeroom in conditions similar to those in the Qumran caves, where the humidity, temperature and darkness preserved the scrolls for two millennia.

For more information, visit the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls.


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Harvard Archaeologists Use 3D-Printing to Repair Ancient Artiacts

Two archaeologists at Harvard University’s Semitic Museum have begun using 3D-scanning and 3D printing to repair a ceramic artifact that was partially destroyed 3,000 years ago during an attack by the Assyrian army. They envision that this kind of work will be useful for conservation, research, and teaching purposes. The archaeologists describe their project:

Using a process called photomodeling, the Harvard team photographed sculpture fragments in the museum’s collection from hundreds of angles to create 3-D renderings of each piece, then meshed them together to form a semi-complete 3-D model of the original artifact. They compared the digital model to scans of full statues found in the same location, noting the gaps and creating the missing pieces and support structures out of 3-D printed parts and CNC carved foam. The technique worked successfully: The reconstituted sculpture will be displayed at the museum when this gallery is reinstated in 2014-15, but will likely be online well before that.

Via Wired

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Muybridge’s Motion Photographs as GIFs

BuzzFeed recently reinterpreted several of Eadweard Muybridge’s time lapse motion study photographs as animated GIFs. Muybridge photographed examples of animal locomotion in the late 1870s and 1880s using multiple cameras to capture an “instantaneous” sequence. For example, the image below of an ostrich running was created using 24 camera that each took a photograph.


The GIFs BuzzFeed posted take those individual images and animate them:

Click here to see the rest!

Image Source:

Via Deep Focus

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