If you’re a photo enthusiast who uses Pandora for personalized music listening, you’ll feel right at home using Art.sy. Just as Pandora uses the Music Genome Project to offer automated music recommendations, Art.sy has an Art Genome Project through which 20,000 images of art from 275 galleries and 50 museums have already been digitized, analyzed, and stored.
The startup behind the project launched its service this past Monday after two years of development, during which time they raised millions of dollars from investors that include powerful people in the art and technology worlds.
If you’re wondering why such a simple idea requires so much money to execute, it’s because of the complexity involved in the “genome mapping”. The New York Times writes,
The technology, at least, is expansive. To make suggestions successfully, computers must be taught expert human judgment, a process that starts with labeling: give a machine codes to tell the difference between a Renaissance portrait and a Modernist drip painting, say, and then it can sort through endless works, making comparisons and drawing connections.
For the Art Genome Project, Matthew Israel [...] leads a team of a dozen art historians who decide what those codes are and how they should be applied. Some labels (Art.sy calls them “genes” and recognizes about 800 of them, with more added daily) denote fairly objective qualities, like the historical period and region the work comes from and whether it is figurative or abstract, or belongs in an established category like Cubism, Flemish portraiture or photography.
[...] As the categories are applied, each is assigned a value between 1 and 100: an Andy Warhol might rate high on the Pop Art scale, while a post-Warholian could rank differently, depending on influences. Software can help filter images for basic visual qualities like color, but the soul of the judgment is human.
Once you’re logged in to the service (or viewing it as a guest), a world of art will be at your fingertips, including thousands of fine art photographs.