CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Lecture: Technically Analyzing Art in the Digital Age. New Advances in Image Processing and Visualization for Technical Art History and Art Conservation

21 May CODART and the RKD jointly organize a lecture by Robert Erdmann, who is currently fellow-in-Residence at NIAS.

Digital imaging techniques, including high-resolution digital photography, infrared photography, infrared reflectography, and radiography, have already transformed technical art history and conservation by providing a variety of new ways of looking at art objects. These techniques also present several challenges: the image data is often huge and comes in many different formats, images across wavelengths must be manually stitched and registered, and it is difficult to visualize the relevant data in order to extract as much information as possible from it. However, new advances in automatic image processing, when combined with an array of new web-based visualizations, can overcome these problems, making it significantly easier to address questions of attribution, study painting technique and studio practice, and to plan conservation and restoration strategies, for example.

Several examples from the author’s work in image processing and visualization with applications to research and documentation of paintings illustrate recent advances. Examples include automated canvas analysis; creation of whole-painting canvas thread angle maps for the Rembrandt Database; computer-assisted assembly of non-overlapping radiographs via texture analysis; novel techniques for automated stitching and cross-wavelength registration of very high resolution imagery of Hieronymus Bosch panel paintings for the Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP); and a suite of new web-based visualizations for easy interactive exploration of these analyses. In each case, the outcome is a set of tools designed to enable art historians, conservators, and conservation scientists to take maximum advantage of new image-processing and interactive visualization technologies.

Lecture: Technically Analyzing Art in the Digital Age
RKD in collaboration with CODART
Date: Tuesday 21 May
15.30: registration
16.00 – 17.15: lecture Robert Erdmann
17.15 – 18.00: drinks

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Fee: €10,- (students €5,-)

Robert Erdmann is Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and of Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, where he earned his PhD in MSE in 2006. Previously, he worked at Sandia National Laboratories researching multiscale image processing and computational modeling of materials. More recently, he has focused extensively on applying techniques from materials science, machine learning, and advanced visualization to imaging for art applications, including ongoing collaborations with the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Mauristhuis Royal Picture Gallery, the RKD, and the Art Institute of Chicago. He holds an honorary position as Research Scientist at the Rijksmuseum and is currently serving as Fellow-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in Wassenaar.