In case you know anyone who still believes that the web is an accurate way to look at photographs and paintings, this should cure them—HINT.FM's The Art of Reproduction has created a gallery that makes it easy to see at a glance how disparate all the different online versions actually are.
"Curious just how far reproductions stray from each other, we began an investigation," they write. "For a set of famous artworks, we downloaded all the plausible copies we could find. Then we wrote software to reconstruct each artwork as a mosaic, a patchwork quilt where each patch comes from an individual copy. By juxtaposing the fragments of the reproductions we visualize their discrepancies."
(Of course, the gallery itself is online, so this could go on...your monitor? My monitor? Probably a little different.)
Here's the gallery. The resulting composites are both strangely attractive and, depending on how well you know the original artworks, a little disturbing!
The link to the "Read More" page seems to be broken at the gallery page—at least for me. The page is here. (Also, best not start poking around that site unless you have some time—it's pretty fascinating.)
(Thanks to Ken Tanaka)
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Craig: "I think anyone who has ever done a Google Images search for some famous artwork has noticed that colors vary enormously between different sources. For that matter, printed reproductions aren't always consistent either, though they don't vary as much as online images. There are probably a number of reasons for this, including variations between source material, scanners, digital camera white balance, people trying to make the colors 'look right' on unbalanced monitors or under biased lighting, and people who just don't care about color accuracy or are too blind to see the difference."
Jeff: "The web isn't the only reason to encourage viewers to look at photographs in person, especially if the intent is to purchase, but also for general visual education. After many years of collecting prints, it's amazing to see how many print variations sometimes exist of the same image by the same photographer. Differences in size, condition, print date, paper, processing interpretations, etc. can create vastly different impressions. And even lighting and display conditions matter. A wonderful print of a great image, properly displayed, can be a special experience."