Can a machine ever match the skills of a human artist? It's a question that has intrigued people for years, and with the creation of The Next Rembrandt it seems that technology and data visualization are closing the gap between computers and painters.
Unveiled in Amsterdam last week, The Next Rembrandt is a 3D-printed painting in the style of Rembrandt, created by software that has closely studied the 346 paintings of the Dutch master.
Made in collaboration with advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam, presenting partner ING Bank and supporting partner Microsoft, The Next Rembrandt took 18 months to complete and resulted in 150 gigabytes of digitally rendered graphics.
"When we embarked on this journey, we didn't know the outcome," explains Bas Korsten, the executive creative director at J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam.
"Can you teach a computer how to paint like Rembrandt? Can you distil Rembrandt's artistic DNA to create new art? All I can say about the outcome is that I see a person. Not a computer image. For me it shows that this marriage between data and art is still in the honeymoon stage," he adds.
With the help of advisors from Delft University of Technology, The Mauritshuis and Museum Het Rembrandthuis, the spirit of Rembrandt has been captured again some four centuries after the artist created his last painting.
Consisting of over 148 million pixels, and based on 168, 263 painting fragments from Rembrandt's work, the creators hope that The Next Rembrandt will fuel the conversation about where technological innovation can take art.
"The Next Rembrandt is a fascinating exercise in connoisseurship," says art historian Gary Schwartz. "While no one will claim that Rembrandt can be reduced to an algorithm, this technique offers an opportunity to test your own ideas about his paintings in concrete, visual form."
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