Wednesday 2 February 2011

Go Go Google Gallery

Gone are the days when you need to leave the house, use some method of transportation and travel to a gallery to view art. Now, thanks to Google, you can view one of 17 global galleries in a slightly grainy and hard to navigate format from your home computer. The technology behind Google’s streetview has been employed to provide a 360° (well almost) tour of various globally renowned galleries including the Met, MoMa and Frick in New York; the Uffizi in Florence, the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the National Gallery and Tate Britain in London.

Above: The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger in the National Gallery, London

Whilst the technology that enables you to look at your street from your living room is perhaps not yet at a sufficiently high standard to provide the full gallery experience, Google’s HD art works are quite simply amazing. Google has taken a couple of images in each gallery and photographed them using an incredible powerful imaging technique which, at its best, enables scenes that were previously almost invisible to be viewed in incredible detail. Critics have been particularly gushing about Pieter Bruegel's 1565 painting, The Harvesters where an entire scene involving throwing sticks at a goose has finally been rendered visible to a mass audience.

Above: Figures by Abakanowicz in the Museum Kampa, Czech Republic

In one sense these HD photographs have completely transformed the art works and created a new work which is beautifully detailed and offers immense educational possibility for all generation. However, due to the exact nature of the copying, the new HD photographs are, arguably, less likely to satisfy copyright’s originality test which would enable the photographs to be treated as copyright works in their own right.

Left: Louis XIV by Antoine Benoist in the palace of Versailles

To experience the Google art project, click here.

For glowing reports from The Guardian see here and here and to take its Google art quiz see here.

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