When I was a kid I’d always liked the idea that you could walk around a virtual equivalent of the real world and go inside those virtual buildings that you couldn’t in real life. Whilst that dream will probably never be fulfilled, Google Street View was a massive step forwards towards that which is now available all over the world including offering path views and now this week’s announcement from Google is perhaps another.
The latest innovation from the internet giant is entitled “Art Project” and it is special in two ways: firstly it allows you to navigate through certain museums and art galleries using the same 360 degree technology that we’ve seen on Street View, and also allows you to view some of these pictures in incredible detail.
With the aim of encouraging the appreciation and viewing of more art, this project which was developed as part of the “20%” initiative at Google that allows employees to take a fifth of their time away from their regular day job to work on innovations – the Art Project has incorporated 17 museums in its first release which has been 18 months in the making and has involved unprecedented access to 385 rooms and over 1,000 different artworks.
It certainly is a novel experience to be able to ‘wander’ through the museums from the comfort of your own computer, and whilst it is relatively limited at the moment (only a few rooms can be looked at in each place) it does give a good indication as to what’s to come and does still offer the incentive to then go and see it in real life.
The list of participating museums and galleries includes some very familiar names: from the UK there’s the National Gallery and Tate Britain, whilst the US has the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection, Museum of Modern Art and Freer Gallery of Art and the rest of Europe boasts 11 offerings including most notably the Van Gough Museum of Amsterdam, the Uffizi of Florence and the Palace of Versailles in Paris.
Another notable feature of this project that I touched on earlier is that a number of paintings (17 to be exact, one for each location) have been captured using technology ‘1,000 times more powerful than the average digital camera’ – gigapixel photo capturing technology – which allows you to view the paintings in stunning detail. Not only can you see right down to the individual brush strokes on these paintings, but Tate Britain’s selection ‘No Woman, No cry’ also has the ability to view it in the dark, which lets you see the ultra-violet “RIP Stephen Lawrence” that is written across it.
But will Google Art Project actually be popular? I hope so, not least because a lot of effort and money has gone into it. But also I think that it would be nice if the modern world that has been slowly reducing the appeal of art to open it up again and allow people to enjoy it from there own home, and see paintings in real detail that they wouldn’t have been able to before.
Of course this means that art students don’t have as good an excuse to travel abroad for their studies and we probably won’t see the equivelent of the weird and funny Google Street View images, but I suppose that’s not the end of the world!
What do you think to the prospect of visiting museums and learning about art and history in a virtual world using Google Art Project? Would this just make you want to visit in real life even more?
Via – Guardian