Thursday, April 21, 2016
A Computer Painted This Rembrandt
Written by Andrew Moseman
The hat. The color. The collar. The texture. The painting has all the hallmarks of a portrait by 17th century Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, but this work of art is the work of a machine.
"The Next Rembrandt," unveiled this week in Holland, is the result of an 18-month project by Amsterdam advertising agency J Walter Thompson, working for ING Bank with the help of some people from Microsoft. And it is, of course, not a Rembrandt at all. Project head Bas Korsten and his team built a new kind of software with a facial recognition algorithm and let it loose studying the works of the legendary artist, with the hope the machine could understand the brushstrokes of the man.
The system studied 346 Rembrandts in all. It was then hooked up to a 3D printer that became the artificial artist's medium, laying down 13 layers of "paint-based UV ink" in a way that mimics not only the layout and palette of a Rembrandt but also the three-dimensional physical structure of the painting.
Not surprisingly, some fans of the Dutch master aren't wild about a machine copying his style. But Korsten insists the "New Rembrandt" is a tribute, not a forgery. He tells The Guardian, "We are creating something new from his work. Only Rembrandt could create a Rembrandt."
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