Tech | Google’s New Gigapixel Art Camera is Digitizing The World’s Masterpieces in Extreme Detail

May 19, 2016  |  Art, Culture, Tech

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Not content to merely map our streets, web travel, and brains, Tech giant Google has now begun digitizing the world’s most famous artworks using their new ultra-high resolution Gigapixel camera. Referred to internally as the “Art Camera,” the devices were designed to be simple to use by non-photo professionals so that museums and other art institutions could quickly begin documenting their collections for posterity. Explains Marzia Niccolai, technical program manager at the Google Cultural Institute, the internal organization responsible for documenting and disseminating fine art & culture, “[with this new camera] the capture time has been reduced drastically. Previously it could take almost a day to capture an image. To give you an idea, now if you have a one meter by one meter painting, it would take 30 minutes.”

The digitization process hinges on the camera’s ability the scan back & forth across a painting’s surface, capturing every inch of the work in extreme detail from top to bottom. That data is then transmitted to Google’s servers where the individual pieces are assembled into one ultra high resolution image file for use by the institution. Once completed, the massive resolution of each individual image enables viewers online to zoom in and view the surface details of the artworks like brush strokes and paint textures in extreme closeups like never before.

Currently, 20 of the cameras exist and are being loaned to cultural institutions around the world for use free of charge. The camera is limited to documenting flat surfaces, and is unable to capture 3D objects such as sculpture, or extremely large paintings, but word is the Google geeks are working on that as we speak.

To date, over 1,000 artworks have been catalogued & can be viewed HERE

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The Art Camera’s capture of Monet’s Spring in Vethuil:
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The Art Camera’s capture of Signac’s The Port of Rotterdam:
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