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running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Google Art Project

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Detail from Google Art

$1. That's the amount Google recently paid in damages to an American couple who sued for breach of privacy caused by Google's Street View activities.

But Street View does have some redeeming features. Google have just extended the technology with the Google Art Project, an online compilation of high-resolution images of art from galleries worldwide, which features a street-view style virtual tour of the galleries in which they are housed.

The project, launched on 1st February, includes works in London's Tate Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The website supports a series of 360-degree tours of more than 400 rooms across the galleries, and also features 17 images at a resolution of 7 gigapixels (7 billion pixels).

Gigapixel technology allows you to zoom in and view the paintings through your web browser at proximities which are impossible even to a viewer actually standing in the room beside the work of art. Brush strokes, cracks and minute surface textures all become visible. And it genuinely looks awesome.

I haven't bothered reading Google's privacy statement, but I'm guessing that lots of web designers, art lovers and anyone looking for a decent desktop background will be screen-capturing gigapixel close-ups of their favourite pieces. I'd buy that for a dollar.