TrendsGoogle Art Camera, art becomes digital in gigapixel

Ilaria Trapuzzano7 years ago7 min


Google launches its new project: digitalize art using high resolution cameras, engaging the most important museums around the world.

And this project may not sound new… and it’s because the Mountain View’s giant founded in 2011 the Culture Institute, that started the acquisition process of digital images of paintings with 200 gigapixel. Shred on the online platform Art Project and available for free at your house.

Art Project quickens pictures acquisition

The new project is more ambitious and sees the introduction of the Google Art Camera, a robot automatic camera that quickens the process of picture acquisition: if before you needed one day to digitalize a painting, now you need just 30 minutes. From 2011 to 2015, the Culture Institute has been able to digitalize only 200 masterpieces, and if we compare this with the 1000 that are about to be published since they have been classified just in a few months, this gives us an idea of the innovation. More paintings, less time.

Once the camera, that looks like a big projector, is placed in front of a painting, it emits laser and sonar impulses that zoom on particular points of the painting, precisely photographed, in every millimeter. The hundreds of pictures taken are then sent to Google servers and converted into one image with gigapixel resolution.

The result is a picture so defined that it allows users to observe as if they have in their hands a magnifying glass, looking and the smallest particulars, from brush strokes to shades, all detail that you can barely see with your naked eye.

Digital preserving art

An experience that is surely different, and it is not comparable to the emotion you experience when you see the painting in a museum, but still, it allows people to have access to a unique passage, the Art Project platform: 150 collections from 40 countries in the world, and this is something we can’t underestimate. For museums and art institutes, is a unique occasion to archive paintings digitally, using a free and powerful technology.


Another point concerns the theme of digitalization and digital conservation for a long period, and this caught the attention of the whole world: some works, especially paintings, can become more and more fragile, sensible to light and humidity. Something like this technology made by Google, allows to preserve the cultural and artistic heritage for future generations. Unesco has been collaborating with Google for years, with the project World Wonder that brings online and 3D the principal world heritage sites, from the ancient and modern era.

Virtual reality is the future?

The next step will be seeing if virtual reality, together with high quality images, will change this kind of experience even more. Maybe in a few years, we will be able to take a virtual tour among Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Botticelli, observing them from so close, with an amazing resolution. Something absolutely realistic.

Ilaria Trapuzzano

“Il vero viaggio non consiste nel cercare nuove terre, ma nell’avere nuovi occhi” – M. Proust. Nata e cresciuta nel giornalismo televisivo, convertita al digitale per scelta inseguendo la voglia di sperimentare diverse forme di narrazione. Racconto la realtà attraverso una nuova prospettiva professionale e di vita, cercando ispirazione nelle cose universalmente belle: viaggi, cibo e buon vino.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.