Machine learning meets culture
Whether helping physicians identify disease or finding photos of “hugs,” AI is behind a lot of the work we do at Google. And at our Arts & Culture Lab in Paris, we’ve been experimenting with how AI can be used for the benefit of culture. Today, we’re sharing our latest experiments—prototypes that build on seven years of work in partnership the 1,500 cultural institutions around the world. Each of these experimental applications runs AI algorithms in the background to let you unearth cultural connections hidden in archives—and even find artworks that match your home decor.
Art PaletteFrom interior design to fashion, color plays a fundamental role in expression, communicating personality, mood and emotion. Art Palette lets you choose a color palette, and using a combination of computer vision algorithms, it matches artworks from cultural institutions from around the world with your selected hues. See how Van Gogh's Irises share a connection of color with a 16th century Iranian folio and Monet’s water lilies. You can also snap a photo of your outfit today or your home decor and can click through to learn about the history behind the artworks that match your colors.
Watch how legendary fashion designer, Sir Paul Smith uses Art Palette:
Giving historic photos a new lease on LIFE
Beginning in 1936, LIFE Magazine captured some of the most iconic moments of the 20th century. In its 70-year-run, millions of photos were shot for the magazine, but only 5 percent of them were published at the time. 4 million of those photos are now available for anyone to look through. But with an archive that stretches 6,000 feet (about 1,800 meters) across three warehouses, where would you start exploring? The experiment LIFE Tags uses Google’s computer vision algorithm to scan, analyze and tag all the photos from the magazine’s archives, from the A-line dress to the zeppelin. Using thousands of automatically created labels, the tool turns this unparalleled record of recent history and culture into an interactive web of visuals everyone can explore. So whether you’re looking for astronauts, an Afghan Hound or babies making funny faces, you can navigate the LIFE Magazine picture archive and find them with the press of a button.
Identifying MoMA artworks through machine learningStarting with their first exhibition in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art in New York took photos of their exhibitions. While the photos documented important chapters of modern art, they lacked information about the works in them. To identify the art in the photos, one would have had to comb through 30,000 photos—a task that would take months even for the trained eye. The tool built in collaboration with MoMA did the work of automatically identifying artworks—27,000 of them—and helped turn this repository of photos into an interactive archive of MoMA’s exhibitions.
We unveiled our first set of experiments that used AI to aid cultural discoveries in 2016. Since then we’ve collaborated with institutions and artists, including stage designer Es Devlin, who created an installation for the Serpentine Galleries in London that uses machine learning to generate poetry. We hope these experimental applications will not only lead you to explore something new, but also shape our conversations around the future of technology, its potential as an aid for discovery and creativity.
You can try all our experiments at g.co/artsexperiments or through the free Google Arts & Culture app for iOS and Android.