Cancel that trip to the Louvre. You’ll never get closer to master art works than through Google’s freakishly powerful, robotic Art Camera.
Google’s Cultural Institute is filled with hundreds of thousands of artifacts that you can view online, and about 200 of them are gigapixel images of famous works of art. There are, naturally, millions more of such artworks you can see in person museums around the world.
But now, with its new robotic Art Camera, Google is automating the process of ingesting these works and putting them online, so you’ll be able to see even more without leaving the house. Google has announced a new camera and the online availability of 1,000 new gigapixel images on Tuesday via its official blog.
The device uses sonar and laser to both focus and line up portions of the works, which it photographs bit by bit. Every image captures the colors and brush strokes that went into making each masterwork in astonishing detail. The system automatically composes the thousands of pieces that make up a piece of art into a cohesive whole.
Online, you can step back virtually from the art to see it in full or zoom in to any section until you are staring at a brush stroke. The effect is especially striking with impressionists works like The Port of Rotterdam by Paul Signac.
The robotic nature of the new camera means that museums around the world can capture these incredibly detailed images without having to send their artwork outside of the museum and without assistance from Google.
“We want to give museums the tools they need to do this important work, so we’re sending a fleet of these cameras from museum to museum around the world—for free,” wrote Google Cultural Institute Engineer Ben St. John in the blog post.
Google couldn’t tell us how much the camera costs or what it cost to build, though they did confirm that it is not for sale. They also noted that the Art Camera is available to any Google Cultural Institute partner who already has at least 50 works uploaded to the platform.