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Rick Johnson

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Friday, November 9, 5 to 6 p.m. Reception following talk. 

A. D. White House - Guerlac Room

Rick Johnson, Geoffrey S. M. Hedrick Senior Professor of Engineering at Cornell University will present, "Studying Vermeer's Canvases and Rembrandt's Papers: Two Examples of Computational Art History"

Rick Johnson, will talk about the emerging field of computational art history, a branch of digital art history, which is at the intersection of art and science. Johnson applies image processing techniques to help automate the gathering of forensic information useful in art history research.  He uses digitized radiographic images and algorithms to find and match manufactured patterns in canvases and papers to date and authenticate historic works of art.  

One example is the measurement of canvas thread density, which can help determine which of Vermeer's canvases originally came from the same roll. Another example is the construction of a web-based decision tree to help identify watermarks in the papers of Rembrandt's etchings to determine which of these papers were made on the same mold. 

Undergraduates working with Johnson are using these applied mathematics techniques to help him gather information that is extending the scholarly reach of art historians and creating new knowledge.