Software to hunt down faked masterpieces...

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Was looking at CNN's Technology web site and read the article "Software to hunt down faked masterpieces"Hany Farid, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College is using digital imaging and software to identify real and fake masterpiece paintings. "His computer program was able to accurately separate eight drawings by 16th century Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder from five drawings by imitators. It also found that portions of a painting by Italian artist Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, known as Perugino, were probably done by Perugino's apprentices."

I have been fortunate to be able to visit some of the top museums in the world as part of my travels to visit with members of the Borland community. I wonder how many great works of art that I've seen (and photographed) were painted by the artist?

Professor Farid's research software, in collaboration with Siwei Lyu and Dan Rockmore, starts with a high resolution digital scan of the artwork and then analyzes the bitmap for statistical differences in parts of the paintings. I think it is fairly well known that some art pieces have completed by the artists and their assistants. The question is whether the painting is a complete fake or not. On Professor Farid's Digital Art Forensics page he says "We have also applied this technique to detecting art forgeries -- in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we have analyzed drawings by Bruegel and find that we are able to perfectly distinguish between authentic drawings and known forgeries."

Dr. Farid's research results were presented in a paper titled, "A Digital Technique for Art Authentication", the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2004. Additional research is being done in the area of digital image tampering.

Will art and photography experts discount this research? After all, would it put them out of work? Is a high resolution scan and analysis software more capable of spotting faked masterpieces? How high would the high resolution have to be to do a better job than a human with traditional tools of the trade? And the digital revolution rolls on!

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  • Guest
    Jan Doggen Thursday, 25 November 2004

    This reminds me of the 'Bert is evil' picture

    on the Osama poster. The distribution of colors for Bert differed from other parts of the poster.

    Some notes at">



    I can't re-find the original sites.

  • Guest
    Jan Mitrovics Monday, 6 December 2004

    I do highly doubt, that this kind of technology would be any threat to the experts. Rather it might be used as an additional tool for them to use.

    With all of these kind of investigation the interpretation of the results is the real challenge.

    The methodology described (converting the picture to grayscale and transformation to wavelets may discover changes in the painting process. However I doubt that it will unveil the source of these changes. Attributing them to another painter is speculative.

    I am using Delphi to develop similar technologies in the area of odour measurements. Very often we find, that we are able to discriminate between different qualities of products or genuine and tampered products. However, statistics can not tell you the reason for the differences.

    For that we need to correlate to reference information (e.g. human odour impression). The correlation is achieved by mathematical correlation of information on reference material (e.g. from human test sniffers) with the output of measurement systems. The main obstacle in using such methodology is the need of that reference information. Due to the vast amount of variance in real world objects, a very large amount of correctly classified reference material is necessary. Often this kind of reference material is not available (or extremely expensive to collect). Due to the variance we have to limit the systems to specific applications (say detect a certain impurity, general maturity of a certain food).

    In the case of identifying faked masterpieces, the amount of reference information is probably limited. The algorithms may be able to identify differences within a picture or between different pictures, but you still need an expert to make use of this information.

    Maybe one could develop a system that integrates the experts knowledge, but that would be much more expensive than to just use an expert.

  • Guest
    hijjack Tuesday, 2 August 2005

    it's good

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