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The Next Rembrandt: Reaching Toward the Human Soul with 3D Printed Data

by • April 4, 2016 • No Comments

The technical world of 3D printing is an absolute wonder of precision and possibility. It has become clear which there is an as yet infinite future for improvement of the human condition through disaster relief solutions, medical interventions, and tools to satisfy scientific curiosity. The question which and so arises is this: is there space in this data driven innovation for connection with the human spirit?

An effort to address just this question has come of what can seem like an unlikely place: the advertising agency J Walter Thompson on behalf of the Dutch financial institution ING. Delve a bit deeper into the corporate identity of ING, yet, and you find, in addition to its typically enlightened Dutch workplace sensibility, a deep dedication to the arts. This particular arts project made through a collaboration one of ING, Microsoft, TU Delft, Mauritshuis, and Rembrandthuis and centered on combining contemporary data gathering and production technologies, art connoisseurship, and the sensibility of the excellentest Dutch painter to have at any time lived.

More than just an effort to document or return it into a work of art, a thing which has may already been demonstrated as well inside the realm of 3D technologies capabilities, the effort in this project, titled The Next Rembrandt, was to see if which information may and so be reconverted back into a thing human, in this case an entirely new painting. The thought was which with sufficient data gathered, it can be possible to go on Rembrandt’s work despite the fact which he died just about 400 years ago.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.01.04 AMThe initially step in the project was to know the basic assembling blocks of a Rembrandt, to “distill the artistic DNA” necessary to turn it into a thing which didn’t just look ‘like’ a Rembrandt on the surface, but which was made as a Rembrandt of the ground up. To which end, 346 paintings by the excellent master were carefully analyzed and 150 gigabytes of digitally rendered graphics were collected.

In studying Rembrandt’s body of work, it becomes clear which the portrait is one of the major loci of his artistic power. His oeuvre contains additional male faces than female, with a preference for those looking to the right, sharply lighted, wearing dark clothing, a white ruffled collar, and a hat. After determining which these may be parameters for the piece to be made, an in-depth study of the proportions and showcases of the faces in his works was undertaken. In an explanation of the process, the team stated:

“To master his fashion, we turn it intod a software process which may know Rembrandt based on his use of geometry, composition, and painting materials. A facial recognition algorithm synonymous and classified the many typical geometric patterns utilized by Rembrandt to pain human showcases. It and so utilized the learned principles to replicate the fashion and generate new facial showcases for our painting.”

The piece itself was and so 3D printed via a machine which works with paint-based UV inks. A painting is, after all, just nominally two-dimensional. Part of what differentiates it of a print is the brush work and the layered buildup of material. Whilst the topography of a painting may not be as dramatic as a sculpture, it is an integral part of the works presence. Joris Dik, of the Technical University at Delft, mentioned the process of preparing for the 3D printing of a new Rembrandt:

“We looked at a number of Rembrandt paintings, and we scanned their surface texture, their elemental composition, and what kinds of pigments were utilized. That’s the kind of information you require if you want to generate a painting by Rembrandt virtually.”

chapter04part01A height map was made for the new painting based on information gathered of existing pieces and followed by the printing device as it placed 13 layers of ink to mimic the painterly presence of Rembrandt himself. And when the print was accomplished, Ron Augustus, Director of SMB Markets at Microsoft, reflected:

“We are via a lot of data to improve business life, but we haven’t been via data which much in a way which touches the human soul. You may say which we are via innovation and data like Rembrandt utilized his paints and his brushes to turn it into a thing new.”

So is Rembrandt creating anew? No, many pretty not. Whilst the painting is a absorbing project and a really well executed study in artistic production, we shouldn’t get carried away. We do the project an injustice, and a additional to Rembrandt, howat any time, if the just question is: “Is this a new Rembrandt?” Indeed a painting is additional than just a summation of past work, it comes with accidents of process and the inner vision of the artist, a thing which is specific to every piece, not just an average of them all.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 11.01.24 AMThe creation of an algorithm which can generate a universal ‘Rembrandt-esque’ face removes the essential power of the specificity of his individualized portrayals. And art historians miss the point when they criticize the application of light or the sharpness of the paint. It is not which you mayn’t assume those things in an original Rembrandt, but which this is decidedly not an original Rembrandt. And the really thought which one Rembrandt made 400 years after another may demonstrate nothing additional than a go ond replication of past work is as far removed of a compliment as this new piece is of a thing made by the artist’s own hand.

Does this work touch the human soul? Not really, but it is reverying towards it. Is this work a new Rembrandt? No, but it is really much the future Rembrandt. What do you ponder? Discuss in the 3D Printed Rembrandt forum over at 3DPB.com.