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Art by the square centimeter
January 14, 2009 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Google Earth moves to square centimeter resolution, when it comes to art at Madrid's Prado Museum. Zoom in on 14-gigapixel images (about 1400 times the detail of a standard 10-gigapixel camera) of some of the museum's masterpieces, via Google Earth or Google Maps (start here). It's like putting your nose right up to the painting. Some details at Google Blog. Be sure to watch the how-it-was-done video.
posted by beagle (40 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Back in 1991 I spent a month in Spain on a summer exchange program. The single free day we had in Madrid, I walked many, many blocks to the Prado. It was closed for the day. I was pretty much crushed. This however kind of makes up for that sad experience - at least partly.

Wonder how long before the Louvre is online as well? You know Google is probably working on it.

That would be pretty cool though, especially for the Mona Lisa. You can't get within 20 feet of the painting. Anything else in the museum you can get as close as you want, but the Mona Lisa is cordoned off and surrounded by a crush of crazed people all trying to capture it in full color glory on their cell phone cameras. At first, my wife was jealous that I actually saw it in person, but when I explained the circumstances she was angry that no one can actually get close enough to really see the painting. You get a better experience looking at a reprint, you see more detail and there's no sweaty guy trying to shove his phone over your shoulder to take a shot.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:55 AM on January 14, 2009


Shame that at the same time they've done something to make Google Maps break in Opera.
posted by bjrn at 6:00 AM on January 14, 2009


There are naked ladies in that painting and they chose to zoom up on some frog feet. I'm just sayin'.
posted by jimmythefish at 6:07 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's like putting your nose right up to the painting.

I for one applaud Google's new nose-based navigation.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:11 AM on January 14, 2009


The last time I used my nose for navigation, I ended up at a bowlful of cereal.

Can't say it was that terrible an experience, but I was kinda hoping for the exit to the airport.
posted by Spatch at 6:12 AM on January 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm so confused by this post (and it's taking forever to load the actual data). It's like an error-correcting thing--any one of these I could figure out, but the combination is too many for me to recover from.

First of all, centimeter resolution would be pretty crappy to view artwork at. Or was that accidentally-reversed hyperbole? Secondly, 14 gigapixels isn't 1400 times 10 gigapixels. Maybe you meant 10 megapixels? However, this is complicated by the details link, which says "14,000 million pixels (14 gigapixels)". Oh wait, that's 14 thousand million, which is indeed 14 giga. OK.

Oh and it finally loaded and I see what it is, which is broken. "Get FlashPlayer!" How about you detect the FlashPlayer I already have? Or better yet, don't require Flash, since you didn't need it for the original map.

Sounds like it could be awesome, though.
posted by DU at 6:16 AM on January 14, 2009


Wow. I've always wanted to be able to see The Garden of Earthly Delights in person. This is as close as I'm going to get for a few years, and I'm totally satisfied.
posted by nosila at 6:16 AM on January 14, 2009


I live about 20 minutes walk away from the Prado. Been there 3 times and barely scratched the surface of their catalogue (free entry in the evenings, whooo!) It's a very impressive collection and museum, though impossible to digest in just a day. (I prefer the Reina Sofia as I'm more into modern/contemporary art. The naval musem is also excellent. Thyssen-Bornemisza is impressive for a private collection, but for I'm not sure if it's really worth the 6 euro entry fee.)

These digital versions are almost preferable to the real thing due to the freedom of being able to zoom in beyond the ability of my weak fleshy hu-man eyes. And less oblivious tourists.

And yes, once they add the Louvre I'll be a happy bunny.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:17 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]



That would be pretty cool though, especially for the Mona Lisa.


Don't hold your breath. If I'm not mistaken, Corbis owns the rights to digital reproductions of the Mona Lisa, along with just about everything else in the Louvre.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:18 AM on January 14, 2009


DU: Indeed, I mean 10 megapixels. Apologies for my poor technomath. It's about the pictures, not the pixels.
posted by beagle at 6:24 AM on January 14, 2009


DU: and as for your Flash problem, can't help you there. It seems to work for most folks here.
posted by beagle at 6:26 AM on January 14, 2009


You know what I could use more than 15 gazillion megapixel details of Bosch figure nostrils? Satellite images of where I live that aren't 6 years old.
posted by machaus at 6:39 AM on January 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


OMG, the coolness factor of this Google Maps endeavor is amazing!!! wowee zowee. What a great thing to do.Whodathunk of using a map camera to photograph these incredible paintings? huh!

You lucky ducky slimepuppy. How sweet you live a few blocks from the Prado. Nice neck of the woods that. Like the Metropolitan Museum here in NYC, or any of the huge museums for that matter, I find it's good to go in for an hour at a time, or even a half hour and soak up just one little part of the art.

Having spent days in the Prado with my nose as close to the paintings as possible (the Prado is excellent that way) I still couldn't see the details like these Google images. I would have needed a nose pressed up against a magnifying glass, pressed up against the paintings. And they're huge paintings, most of them. Enormous. Like the Bosch ones are whole walls.

In the Prado if one stands in front of a Velasquez, for example, like the one of Las Ninas, one can only see as far as one can tiptoe. The upper parts of the painting can be enjoyed, of course, at a distance but it is SO cool to be able to see those far corners, up close, really, really close. This is just so amazing. Thanks for the post beagle.
posted by nickyskye at 6:48 AM on January 14, 2009


Dear Google-

You frighten me terribly, but I still think you're great.

Your pal-
dirtdirt
posted by dirtdirt at 6:49 AM on January 14, 2009


DU, you know it's Google Earth (the desktop application) not Google Maps?

Guardian had a bit too.

I thought it was very impressive tech. People often don't realise how much detail they're missing on a normal-resolution image.

Shame they've only got a few pictures though. And the Majas aren't included...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:49 AM on January 14, 2009


DU, you know it's Google Earth (the desktop application) not Google Maps?

From the post: via Google Earth or Google Maps

I tried the Maps version because Earth won't run on my work computer. ("Earth won't run on my work computer" is also a problem Slartibartfast had.)
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


TheophileEscargot: it's actually both.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 7:00 AM on January 14, 2009


What won't these dudes think of next?
posted by sfts2 at 7:03 AM on January 14, 2009


I'm waiting for the mashup that shows which paintings supported Prop 8.
posted by malocchio at 7:33 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, 14 gigapixels of The Garden of Earthly Delights is way more interesting than anyone's neighborhood. Do you have a naked guy balancing a mermaid on his feet next door? A floating bordello in a blue orb?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:44 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yet still no resolution for Urbana Illinois. What are they hiding?
posted by nax at 7:46 AM on January 14, 2009


Do you have a naked guy balancing a mermaid on his feet next door? A floating bordello in a blue orb?

Clearly you haven't been to my neighborhood.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:57 AM on January 14, 2009


> Wow. I've always wanted to be able to see The Garden of Earthly Delights in person. This is as close as I'm going to get for a few years, and I'm totally satisfied.

It's actually better via google than in person.
posted by dhruva at 8:01 AM on January 14, 2009


Ah Google, once again getting it wrong and imposing physical space limitations on virtual space. When will you learn?

Also, Google Earth seems to be getting jealous of Microsoft PhotoSynth.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:04 AM on January 14, 2009


This is so much cheaper than a plane ticket.
posted by goatgirl at 8:07 AM on January 14, 2009


It may get you closer to the paintings than you would get in person, but afterwards you can't go for tapas at this place. Sigh.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:16 AM on January 14, 2009


This is totally sweet, but I wish it wouldn't automatically play Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want every time I try zooming in on a painting.
posted by carsonb at 8:21 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


What am I missing? I click a painting and get ... nothing. Jeez I want to see this. Is it perhaps a non-Mac thing?
posted by cccorlew at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2009


Shame that at the same time they've done something to make Google Maps break in Opera.

I am sure the six or seven Opera users are crushed.
posted by xmutex at 8:33 AM on January 14, 2009


Great job on the post beagle! I was going to try to put one together last night and I'm glad I didn't bother.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:40 AM on January 14, 2009


I would have needed a nose pressed up against a magnifying glass

You're doing it wrong.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:42 AM on January 14, 2009


This is, of course, unquestionably cool , but I always wonder when the other shoe is gonna drop and Google announces "Phase 2" and then we're all fucked.


"I need to speak to your CEO!" shouted IRS agent Joe Gillis.

"Of course sir, Mr. Schmidt is waiting for you." an intern waved him toward the door.

"No" said Joe, "Your *real* controlling interest."

"I see". The Intern took Joe down a long flight of stairs in a vast, dark chamber filled soft bubbling noises. A large curtain divided the room in half. "Are you sure?" said the intern.

"Of course"

The intern pulled back the curtain and Joe screamed

"NO! No ! It can't be! It's horrible! HORRIBLE!"

Joe Gillis left that place and dropped the case against Google. INC. He also stopped eating seafood. Out of respect. And fear.

posted by The Whelk at 8:42 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


carson: you just earned me weird looks from all my coworkers when i burst out laughing at your comment.
posted by sid at 8:46 AM on January 14, 2009


Also, everyone talks about the weird animals and butt shots and strange fruits in Bosch but no one ever mentions the amount of "Exuberantly Riding A Pig While Naked" or "Sharing A Tender Moment With Your Gigantic Owl."
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Why mention the mundane?", he asked, happily slapping his porcine companion and giving the owl a loving scratch behind the ears?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:31 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I am sure the six or seven Opera users are crushed.

About as crushed as the six or seven Chrome users are happy about it working I guess (the userbase for Opera and Chome seem to be roughly the same size).
posted by bjrn at 10:26 AM on January 14, 2009


I love how people think that everybody else is an obnoxious tourist who doesn't truly appreciate the art.
posted by chococat at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2009


Good God, thank you! Being able to see all the fantastic creatures in Bosch's garden is like a second Christmas. Fairies! Sky fish! Strawberry orgy!

According to Bosch, a flute up your butt means you've committed an unforgivable sin. Flowers up your butt is just another day on Earth.
posted by Rora at 11:06 AM on January 14, 2009


About as crushed as the six or seven Chrome users are happy about it working I guess (the userbase for Opera and Chome seem to be roughly the same size).

Not at Google... (unsurprisingly it does work in Chrome, although as it says the best experience is via Google Earth).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:37 PM on January 14, 2009


I am so in love with this. Did you know Hieronymous Bosch painted the first known Lyndie England?
posted by fcummins at 3:30 PM on January 14, 2009


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