What is an "average" Rembrandt?
April 5, 2016 12:43 PM   Subscribe

The Next Rembrandt Can you create a "new" Rembrandt "painting" via data analysis? This project gives it a try.
posted by xingcat (27 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Given the interesting things being done these days at the intersection of machine learning and art, I found the approach here to be surprisingly mechanistic and uncreative. It didn't surprise me that the result was something that had all the characteristics of a Rembrandt with none of the artistic value. If I saw that in a gallery, my first guess would be that it was the work of an apprentice in his studio.
posted by srt19170 at 1:10 PM on April 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


Okay, this is all very nice (if a bit difficult to navigate) but when do we get a Rembrandt-generation web widget to play with?
posted by fermion at 1:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'll bet you could produce a passable Mondrian.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:23 PM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'll bet you could produce a passable Mondrian.

I don't need computer automation to do that, just a ruler and a $2.49 set of markers from Target.
posted by aught at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


A more fun story is to be had in Tim's Vermeer.
posted by BWA at 1:28 PM on April 5, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm calling dibbs on Jackson Pollock.
posted by Splunge at 1:31 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


dibbs, dabs, and splotches?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:35 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


This just seems like the wrong approach to me. From the description this doesn't seem to be much different than the the algorithms that produce an "average face" for a given population. I can hear them now saying "But we added a height map!"

It would have been much more interesting to have them evaluate HOW Rembrandt painted (direction of brush strokes, color usage, amount of paint at a particular point, etc.) and use that to generate a new painting of a new subject. It would be even more interesting to have a modern subject. How would Rembrandt paint something today?

I guess I look at what they produced and just see a missed opportunity.
posted by Defective_Monk at 1:41 PM on April 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


I found it very difficult to navigate that webpage, and I still like I'm missing something big because the content I was actually able to find was really brief. Like, 12 paragraphs total and no real "results" section?
posted by kprincehouse at 2:19 PM on April 5, 2016


Yeah, the site's clunky, did you watch the video?

(most of) their resulting image: imgur link
posted by stobor at 2:50 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is one of the most annoying webpages I've seen in a while. How about a whitepaper?
posted by demiurge at 3:34 PM on April 5, 2016


demiurge: "This is one of the most annoying webpages I've seen in a while. How about a whitepaper?"

It's a tie between this and the mochi page, I think.
posted by Splunge at 3:45 PM on April 5, 2016


The webpage tells me that:
It seems like your browser was last updated during the Rembrandt Era

Please Update your browser
So, yeah, difficult to navigate, since there appear to be no actual buttons I can click. (What, Debian Jesse isn't new enough for you??)
posted by clawsoon at 4:44 PM on April 5, 2016


So you click on the bottom of the page and drag the cursor upwards to move to the next "slide" and the tell's the four pointed cursor you get when you wave it around the screen?

I begin to think this webpage was designed for a smartphone.

I swear I'm not as annoyed as I probably sound, just ... baffled.
posted by aroweofshale at 4:58 PM on April 5, 2016


Okay, so maybe I've been living under a rock. Designing webpages for smartphones seems like a smart thing to do, honestly.

Yeah, the site looks really nice on a smartphone. Not so much on a browser.
posted by aroweofshale at 5:22 PM on April 5, 2016


I guess I look at what they produced and just see a missed opportunity.

Is it a fundamental flaw of data-based technology that they can only progress towards the mean? (My instinct is as much)
posted by an animate objects at 5:31 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


All right, third post going, (sorry), but...

This whole thing with gathering data from the original paintings to produce a new one reminds me of, well, when you're practising to get good at an art, sometimes you try to imitate a known master's style, right? This kind of reminds me of that.

I'm sure they could produce something more meaningful if they gave it a bit more direction but sometimes you do things just to see if it can be done. Maybe on their next attempt?
posted by aroweofshale at 5:34 PM on April 5, 2016




Web navigation has jumped the shark.
posted by rmmcclay at 6:25 PM on April 5, 2016


Did they add craquelure to the painting as part of its "authenticity"? I thought the last shot of the piece showed it.
posted by the sobsister at 7:52 PM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have had the great pleasure of getting to spend a great deal of time among some of Rembrandt's greatest works. Though his draftsmanship is very deft, the most striking quality of his work is his ability to convey a sense of a human presence, an interiority in the eyes. I have seen Lucretia almost every day for over a decade and she still makes me cry.

So this is cool and stuff, but not so Rembrandt.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:31 PM on April 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


My team was close to creating a new Rabo Karabekian, but we couldn't find the Sateen Dura-Luxe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:38 AM on April 6, 2016


Yeah, the eyes are seriously off; it looks like the subject has a thousand-yard-stare, or that it's a painting of a corpse, not of a person.
posted by suedehead at 7:58 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Reminds me a bit of Fredward.
posted by boilermonster at 10:11 AM on April 6, 2016


there are several apps web and phone that are connected to banks of servers in the cloud that do the hard work. Pikazo comes to mind.

Wildly unpredictable and great fun.

So far the resulting images are fairly low resolution, but I have had some spectacular results mashing up patterns I've created in Photoshop or Illustrator and remixing photos with them... as well as using famous works of art to do so.

Pro Tip: if you use high resolution images for the source image and the texture image, you can coax the results into a passable print using AlienSkin BlowUp or similar.

here is a Pikazo remix of a portrait mixed with Van Gough's Starry Night
posted by bobdow at 2:34 PM on April 6, 2016


Pfft. This thing doesn't look anything like the theme from Friends.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I begin to think this webpage was designed for a smartphone.

That's the way things have been trending though I found this site perfectly easy to use on the desktop as well. It did remind me of Flash sites from awhile ago in many ways but we all knew that the HTML5 umbrella was going to feature animated menus, interfaces, etc. I find the Sports Illustrated site which also features a lot of modal windows more difficult than this one.

I am not anywhere close in knowledge to judge this project but just assume like many things currently in development, early days, early results.
posted by juiceCake at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2016


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