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December 29, 2018

All the Vermeers in the world

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 3.10.56 PM

Caption for graphic above: Meet Vermeer, a new augmented-reality app from the Mauritshuis museum and Google, is a virtual museum containing images of all authenticated Vermeer paintings. From left, an overhead view of the galleries in miniature; a look inside the space; and "Girl With a Pearl Earring" on the wall.

From the New York Times:

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Johannes Vermeer, whose acute eye captured the quiet beauty of Dutch domestic life, was not a prolific artist: Just 36 paintings are widely acknowledged as his work.

Still, anyone who wanted to see them all had to travel far and wide — to New York, London, Paris, and beyond.

Until now.

The Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, which owns what is perhaps Vermeer's best-known masterpiece, "Girl With a Pearl Earring," has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture in Paris to build an augmented-reality app that creates a virtual museum featuring all of the artist’s works.

For the app, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has contributed images of all five of its Vermeer masterpieces, while the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, each with four, have also given photographs of theirs.

Two more have come from the Louvre, and three from the Frick Collection.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston has shared an image of "The Concert," the Vermeer that disappeared after being stolen from the museum’s collection in 1990.

That painting will be on view once again in Meet Vermeer, the digital museum.

As of December 4, the free app has been accessible to anyone with a camera-equipped smartphone.

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[Caption for above photo: A detail of "Girl With a Pearl Earring," perhaps Vermeer's best-known work. Users of the app can zoom in on all the paintings.]

"This is one of these moments when technology does something that you can never do in real life, and that's because these paintings could never be brought together in real life," said Emilie Gordenker, director of the Mauritshuis.

She explained that some of the 17th-century paintings were too fragile to travel, while some were in private collections, and the Gardner's was lost.

But even under different circumstances, it would be unlikely that all the owners would be willing to part with all of their prized Vermeers at the same time.

The 18 museums and private collections that own Vermeer paintings, however, were willing to provide high-resolution digital image files of their Vermeers to the project.

Vermeer, a somewhat mysterious figure who lived and worked in Delft, the Netherlands, is thought to have created about 45 paintings during a career spanning nearly two decades.

Some are believed to have gone missing.

Besides the 36 works that a majority of Vermeer scholars accept as authentic, other paintings have been attributed to him.

Because the art world continues to debate their authorship, Ms. Gordenker said this virtual museum would not include them.

Although many of these images are already on the museums' websites, Ms. Gordenker said she wanted to give the public a sense of the paintings' size in relation to one another — something that is hard to convey in a flat picture on a screen.

All the institutions contributing to the app sent high-resolution digital images of their Vermeers.

Opening the app, visitors gaze down at a museum with no ceiling.

To enter one of the rooms displayed, they touch the phone's surface, pinching their fingers together and then opening them.

As they land in a gallery, the perspective shifts so that they face the walls, where the framed paintings hang.

Zooming in, they can approach each work and examine it closely.

The first room is devoted to Vermeer's earliest works.

The rest of the museum is organized thematically, exploring subjects such as "contemplation" and the studies of faces known as "tronies."

Laurent Gaveau, director of Google's Arts and Culture Lab, a nonprofit developed to experiment with new ways to make art and culture accessible to the public, said this was the first virtual museum that Google had created, but that he could certainly imagine making more.

"We could think about all kinds of museums that never existed," he said in a telephone interview, although he added that no other such projects were yet in the works. "We want to first see how people will react to this, and we want to see, from a technological standpoint and a user standpoint, if it's right and how it can be improved."

Paintings by Vermeer have long been reproduced in all types of formats, from posters to patterns on handbags and umbrellas.

But as the technology improves and visitors have the artificial but intimate experience of seeing high-quality reproductions in a museum setting, does Ms. Gordenker worry that they will be less motivated to travel for the real thing?

No, she said.

"The more information we share, including images, the more I think that people want to have the authentic experience of seeing the work in its home," she said, "and seeing it as an actual physical presence. One of the reasons that museums have becoming increasingly relevant, and why attendance is going up, is that we've been able to harness these digital technologies. It breaks down barriers, and makes what we have much more accessible."

December 29, 2018 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I have zero interest in alternate outcomes: Black Mirror/Bandersnatch FAIL

If I wanted to interact, I'd play a video game.

Raved the Guardian, "The interactive episode has breathed new life into the anthology show, with a choose-your-own-adventure element that puts viewers in the driving seat."

When I sit down to watch a movie or show, I want to watch — not have to think about choosing a direction for the characters to follow and one of five different endings.

I'm looking forward to enjoying the vision of the director, not my own tired tropes.

So it was very annoying to find that "Bandersnatch," the much ballyhooed new feature-length episode of "Black Mirror, which made its world premiere yesterday, 

1) Couldn't even be viewed on my non-smart 2007 TV

2) Wasn't a normal movie but rather involved choices made by me, the viewer

FAIL for this lazy person.

December 29, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Every Building on Every Block: A Time Capsule of 1930s New York

B

From the New York Times:

Bb

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In the late 1930s and early 1940s, New York City sent photographers to every building in every borough in an attempt to make property tax assessments fairer and more accurate.

D

The result was more than 700,000 black-and-white snapshots of everything from fashionable apartment buildings in Manhattan to an out-of-the-way diner on Staten Island.

Dd

The city recently had the images digitized.

C

City officials did not want art, they wanted documentation to back up the terse written descriptions of each building in the files.

Cc

For accuracy, each photograph showed not only a building, but also its block and lot number as registered in municipal records.

A

The photographers carried sign boards with letters and numbers that they changed between shots.

Aa

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Above, some of the 1930s photos followed by pictures of the same buildings today.

Fair warning: there goes the day.

December 29, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cupboard Stairs

Clever girl....

Genius.

$595.

[via Rob O]

December 29, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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