Can computers understand art?

Posted filed underComputer Art, Science.


Understanding and evaluating art has widely been considered as a task meant for humans, until now. Computer scientists Lior Shamir and Jane Tarakhovsky of Lawrence Technological University in Michigan tackled the question “can machines understand art?” The results were very surprising.

Can computers understand art
Phys.com: “In fact, an algorithm has been developed that demonstrates computers are able to “understand” art in a fashion very similar to how art historians perform their analysis, mimicking the perception of expert art critiques. In the experiment, published in the recent issue of ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, the researchers used approximately 1, 000 paintings of 34 well-known artists, and let the computer algorithm analyze the similarity between them based solely on the visual content of the paintings, and without any human guidance. Surprisingly, the computer provided a network of similarities between painters that is largely in agreement with the perception of art historians. The analysis showed that the computer was clearly able to identify the differences between classical realism and modern artistic styles, and automatically separated the painters into two groups, 18 classical painters and 16 modern painters. Inside these two broad groups the computer identified sub-groups of painters that were part of the same artistic movements. For instance, the computer automatically placed the High Renaissance artists Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo very close to each other. The Baroque painters Vermeer, Rubens and Rembrandt were also clustered together by the algorithm, showing that the computer automatically identified that these painters share similar artistic styles.

Read on at Phys.com.