“Storing Art Images in Intelligent Computers” presented by Kirsch and Kirsch


Session Title:

  • Applying AI-Techniques to Art

Presentation Title:

  • Storing Art Images in Intelligent Computers



  • Images of artworks can be stored in media that preserve different characteristics of the original. Differences exist in the extent to which we can preserve color, three dimensionality, surface texture, fine structure, tonal gradations, temporal variations and other characteristics that lend uniqueness to individual artworks. Usually, we are willing to sacrifice some of these characteristics in exchange for the permanence and recoverability offered by storage media. Thus, a color slide (diapositive), which is a common medium for storing images of artworks, compromises all of the above properties to different extents but is nevertheless considered useful for the archival properties it offers for images of artworks. Digital storage media used in conjunction with computers offer new opportunities and demand new compromises in storing art images. An unusual challenge is offered by the possibility of providing intelligence to a computer. The authors make clear the sense in which we may ascribe intelligence to the computer and how this may be used to ‘perceive’ the image of an artwork. The computer then uses its knowledge of the artwork with respect to a large class of such works not only for archival storage but also to achieve economy in the use of the storage medium. The authors illustrate the achievement of storage economy as much as tens of thousands of times greater than storage without intelligence. The intelligence is provided to the computer as syntactic descriptions of classes of artworks. The syntactic descriptions incorporate insight from the art historian, critic or artist who uses innovative tools like shape grammars to provide the computer with a small part of the intelligence that the educated human viewer brings to the perception of the artwork.

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