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Barnes Foundation uses intelligent machines to offer new ways of interpreting art collections
POSTED 17 Jul 2018 . BY Tom Anstey
Albert Barnes had an unconventional perspective on art interpretation, which was based on making visual connections with different works instead of focusing on art styles and time frames
Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation art gallery has used machine learning to create an intelligent art critic, with the technology able to interpret and pair digital artwork together to recognise art style, objects and even images of Jesus.

Since its foundation in 1922, the Barnes has built a collection boasting works by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézzane and Claude Monet. Its founder Albert Barnes had an unconventional perspective on art interpretation, which was based on making visual connections with different works instead of focusing on art styles and time frames.

Created to help users view the artificially generated art collections, the new AI can identify basic elements in an artwork – such as people, objects and animals – which it will then categorise and place in different artificially-generated collections.

The technology, however, sees and interprets things differently to a human. Through computer vision, art is looked at differently, for example, the program interpreting many works by Renoir as being filled with stuffed animals and teddy bears. While on the surface this might seem like a failure in the technology, for Martha Lucy, deputy director for education and public programmes at the Barnes, it supported a theory she had about the artist's work.

"I’ve been working on an essay about Renoir’s obsession with the sense of touch, which I’m trying to link with his desire to revive artisanal values during the industrial era," she said in a blog post.

"A big part of my argument rests on proving (to the extent this is possible) that Renoir was deliberately trying to evoke the sense of touch in his paintings of fleshy naked women. So discovering that the computer was seeing teddy bears – soft things – was good news."

A research team from Rutgers University created the technology, which at its core tries to ascertain visual similarity among objects. The AI differs from a recognition project created by Fabrica for the Tate, which is trained to recognise images using photographs, not art. By comparison, the Rutgers version understands the basics of art and will continue to learn as it takes in more images.

"The Rutgers model will be integral to finding visual connections between works of art. This will most likely be the majority of what a visitor ends up seeing on our website as 'visually similar results'," said Shelly Bernstein, a consultant creative technologist working at the Barnes.

"While web visitors may never discover that computers think our collection is comprised of stuffed animals, we’re curious about this second path and what we may learn from it."

The Rutgers system has had interesting takes on different visual styles of art, sometimes labelling classic artwork as graffiti, while other times tagging bearded faces or similar shapes as Jesus Christ. According to the museum's curators, while sometimes an abstract concept, the computer's method of making visual connections that a human likely would not make, made logical sense.

Using the AI, the Barnes website allows visitors to access digitised versions of its collection. When the user selects a particular piece, it offers it alongside visually related works, which then offers a slider toggle ranging from "more similar" to "more surprising".

"The Renoir teddy bears was a case when the computer saw something that supported (however tenuously) what I was already thinking," said Lucy.

"But what about when it reads the work of art as something that you never would have anticipated? When it perceives something that actually makes you look at a familiar object in a totally new way?

"These weird misreadings could stretch the brain, and this is always good for art history."

To explore the Barnes collection and to try out the tool, click here.
Since its foundation in 1922, the Barnes has built a collection boasting works by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézzane and Claude Monet
When the user selects a particular piece, it offers it alongside visually related works, which then offers a slider toggle ranging from "more similar" to "more surprising"
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NEWS
Barnes Foundation uses intelligent machines to offer new ways of interpreting art collections
POSTED 17 Jul 2018 . BY Tom Anstey
Albert Barnes had an unconventional perspective on art interpretation, which was based on making visual connections with different works instead of focusing on art styles and time frames
Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation art gallery has used machine learning to create an intelligent art critic, with the technology able to interpret and pair digital artwork together to recognise art style, objects and even images of Jesus.

Since its foundation in 1922, the Barnes has built a collection boasting works by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézzane and Claude Monet. Its founder Albert Barnes had an unconventional perspective on art interpretation, which was based on making visual connections with different works instead of focusing on art styles and time frames.

Created to help users view the artificially generated art collections, the new AI can identify basic elements in an artwork – such as people, objects and animals – which it will then categorise and place in different artificially-generated collections.

The technology, however, sees and interprets things differently to a human. Through computer vision, art is looked at differently, for example, the program interpreting many works by Renoir as being filled with stuffed animals and teddy bears. While on the surface this might seem like a failure in the technology, for Martha Lucy, deputy director for education and public programmes at the Barnes, it supported a theory she had about the artist's work.

"I’ve been working on an essay about Renoir’s obsession with the sense of touch, which I’m trying to link with his desire to revive artisanal values during the industrial era," she said in a blog post.

"A big part of my argument rests on proving (to the extent this is possible) that Renoir was deliberately trying to evoke the sense of touch in his paintings of fleshy naked women. So discovering that the computer was seeing teddy bears – soft things – was good news."

A research team from Rutgers University created the technology, which at its core tries to ascertain visual similarity among objects. The AI differs from a recognition project created by Fabrica for the Tate, which is trained to recognise images using photographs, not art. By comparison, the Rutgers version understands the basics of art and will continue to learn as it takes in more images.

"The Rutgers model will be integral to finding visual connections between works of art. This will most likely be the majority of what a visitor ends up seeing on our website as 'visually similar results'," said Shelly Bernstein, a consultant creative technologist working at the Barnes.

"While web visitors may never discover that computers think our collection is comprised of stuffed animals, we’re curious about this second path and what we may learn from it."

The Rutgers system has had interesting takes on different visual styles of art, sometimes labelling classic artwork as graffiti, while other times tagging bearded faces or similar shapes as Jesus Christ. According to the museum's curators, while sometimes an abstract concept, the computer's method of making visual connections that a human likely would not make, made logical sense.

Using the AI, the Barnes website allows visitors to access digitised versions of its collection. When the user selects a particular piece, it offers it alongside visually related works, which then offers a slider toggle ranging from "more similar" to "more surprising".

"The Renoir teddy bears was a case when the computer saw something that supported (however tenuously) what I was already thinking," said Lucy.

"But what about when it reads the work of art as something that you never would have anticipated? When it perceives something that actually makes you look at a familiar object in a totally new way?

"These weird misreadings could stretch the brain, and this is always good for art history."

To explore the Barnes collection and to try out the tool, click here.
Since its foundation in 1922, the Barnes has built a collection boasting works by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézzane and Claude Monet
When the user selects a particular piece, it offers it alongside visually related works, which then offers a slider toggle ranging from "more similar" to "more surprising"
RELATED STORIES
Scientists urge London's Science Museum to end fossil fuel partnerships


A collection of nearly 50 scientists has urged the London Science Museum to end three oil company partnerships, with the collective arguing the sponsorships are "undermining" the museum as a scientific institution.
Cave which trapped Thai schoolboys to become 'living museum'


The cave in which 12 Thai schoolboys and their football coach were trapped for 18 days is to be turned into a museum highlighting the bold rescue operation that saw them escape unharmed.
Decades of Wheels car museum planned for Route 66 at Kansas


Located beside the famous Route 66 in Kansas, Texas, a new car museum will showcase some of the US’s most loved cars and motorbikes.
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We create guest experiences others don’t, masterplan like no one else can, and give the world’s bi [more...]
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TOR Systems have been in this business since 1981. [more...]
Triotech

Triotech was established in 1999. The company is based in Montreal, Canada and has additional offi [more...]
Painting With Light

By combining lighting, video, scenic and architectural elements, sound and special effects we tell s [more...]
+ More profiles  
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Attractions industry to reunite this September at IAAPA Expo Europe in London
For the first time in more than a decade, industry leaders from across the global attractions industry will once again gather in London as part of the annual IAAPA Expo Europe, the sector’s premier international event. [more...]
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Red Raion Showreel 2021
Another year has passed, and we’re definitely happy with what we have accomplished in 2021! Find out more...
More videos:
IAAPA Expo Europe Promo – International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)
Red Raion TV - Testimonial: Leolandia – Red Raion
Keynote | Moby Dick - Friends to the rescue! – Red Raion
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+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

27-29 Sep 2022

International Congress on Thermal Tourism

Ourense, Ourense, Spain
13 Oct 2022

VAC 2022

The ICC Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


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Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

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