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Computer processing of scientific images of artworks—using algorithms from engineering applications—has advanced rapidly over the past decade. These tools have allowed researchers to more clearly identify authenticity and dating, while also shedding light on artists’ original intentions. Richard Johnson, the Geoffrey S.M. Hedrick Senior Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University, and Paul Messier, the Pritzker Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Lens Media Lab at Yale University, will discuss their groundbreaking collaborative work that combines expertise from the worlds of signal processing and art conservation.

Johnson introduces a range of applications based on matching manufactured patterns in art supports, including those of canvases used by van Gogh and Vermeer, as well as the laid paper for Rembrandt’s etchings. Messier demonstrates how this work is put into practice in his pursuit to characterize the “genome” of twentieth-century photography.

Part of the Lunder Conservation Center program series at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.