Searching Through Seeing: Optimizing Computer Vision Technology for the Arts


– My name is Stephen Bury,
and I am the Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian of the
Frick Art Reference Library. In the nearly eight
years I have been here, I’ve tried to position the library between the physical and the digital, between those that do not realize that the physical container can
be a carrier of information, and those that don’t see the potential of the manipulation of the digital to answer art historical questions. In fact, completing new types of questions can now be asked and answered. Over the next day and a
half in this symposium devoted to computer vision,
I look forward to addressing and remedying the problem
of the slow adoption by the art historical community
of digital technology. Firstly, I would like
to do some thank you’s. First of all, to Hasso Plattner, co-founder of the software company, SAP, and himself an avid art collector, who is a very generous supporter
of initiatives like this, that lie at the intersection
of art and technology. Also, Dr. Christoph Meinel,
the President and CEO of the Hasso Plattner Institute, from whom we will hear
later this afternoon. Nanne Dekking, CEO and founder of Artory, who introduced us to both the above. Nanne was also a member
of the advisory group for this project, along
with Louisa Wood Ruby, Ellen Prokop, and Emily Spratt, all of whom made this event possible. I also want to thank other colleagues from The Frick’s Digital Art History Lab, who are helping out today and tomorrow. I now hand you over to Louisa Wood Ruby, Head of Research at the
Frick Art Reference Library, and whose brainchild this symposium is. Thank you. (crowd clapping) – Good afternoon to everyone. I’m so glad so many people chose to spend the afternoon with us on this first spring day of New York. And tomorrow, it’s
supposed to be even nicer, so you’re gonna be in here working hard, those of you who are coming back, and we really appreciate it. I’m hoping that this is gonna
be an extremely exciting and productive symposium,
and I think it is, just from having talked
to most of the speakers this morning during their mic checks. Before I begin, I would
like everyone to note that we’re being live streamed, and that the video will be archived on The Frick’s website for future viewing, as will the morning lectures tomorrow for those of you who can’t join us. Only the second to last speaker today, Dr. Laurens van der Maaten,
will not be live streamed. We are honored today to have
eight wonderful speakers on the roster who will
give us a broad overview of the incredible new landscapes that artificial intelligence
and machine learning are opening up for the world of art. Before I introduce our
first speaker, I would like to provide you with a little
background to the event. After all, it may seem
strange that of all places, The Frick Collection is hosting a symposium on computer vision. In fact, as an institution, we have always actively pursued the best. This began with the art collection formed by Henry Clay Frick
that you see on the slide now, and the Art Library founded
by his daughter, Helen, and continues to the present day, with our pursuit of the
best digital technologies to present our collections to a world that is increasingly turning
to an online environment. In the past 10 years,
we have become leaders in many new areas, and as you
will see today and tomorrow, have been actively seeking partnerships in computer science to help
realize some of our dreams. In fact, we think The
Frick is the ideal place to present this symposium because
one if its main objectives is to get art historians,
who are notoriously slow in adopting technology, and this slide, which is on our website,
is meant to remind all of us art historians of the exciting new technology of slides
that came out in the 70s. We found this from The Met’s website. And how many of us just couldn’t even give it up all the way til something like 2010, if
the computer scientists in this room can believe
it, but it’s true. And we need to begin to
understand the potential of artificial intelligence for our field. With that understanding, we can help those computer scientists who
are willing to work with us to design systems that are truly useful, and not just systems that interest them. Working collaboratively
and including members of the business community who are also represented here today, and have optimized these technologies much
faster than we have, we can guide the way the world’s rich cultural heritage is presented with intelligent solutions
that maximize access, interoperability, searchability, and historical accuracy. Our speakers today include
leaders in the field who have been working on the
ability of the computer to see. Hopefully, their vision will open our eyes to what technology can offer. I would like to extend
my most sincere thanks to Sean Troxell and Amanda Orchanian, Samantha Deutch, and Marie
Braun for all their help with this very complicated symposium. Most of all, I want to
thank Dr. Stephen Bury, who has stood firmly behind
our project the entire way. And of course, none of
this is possible without my co-organizers, Ellen Prokop,
Associate Head of Research, and our first speaker
herself, Emily L. Spratt, the first fellow in our newly
formed research department. Without their tireless effort and input, none of this would have been possible.

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