Blog Category: technology

Behind the Screens of the Google Art Project

Google Art Project at the de Young

When I joined the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as an intern nearly a year ago, I was charged with the dream-of-a-lifetime task of adding works from the de Young’s collection to the Google Art Project, an online collections database.

Q&A with January Artist-in-Residence John Zaklikowski

January Artist-in-Residence John Zaklikowski has titled his residency Culture and Physics Collide, an apt description for his artwork which utilizes a wide variety of technological materials and meets at the intersection of art and science. His large-scale assemblages investigate notions of perception and optical illusion, illustrating the interplay of art, science, literature, and cultural studies. 

Animation Collaboration

This post was written by Erica Wong and Brinker Ferguson

Digital media interpretive fellow Brinker Ferguson and graphic designer Erica Wong recently worked together to create a 2D animation geared toward school-age children in association with The Salon Doré: Conservation of a Period Room. One of the first endeavors of its kind at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this animation was put together jointly by Brinker and Erica. This is their story.

3D Printing a Custom Support for an 18th-century French Clock

3D scanning and printing have made their mark on popular culture in the past couple of years with eye-catching headlines like “Researchers Closing in on Printing 3D Hearts” and “Tools of Modern Gunmaking.” Many museums have also started using 3D printing to foster greater engagement and creativity between their visitors and collections. As a cultural institution, one of the main challenges when experimenting with new technologies is to understand and evaluate how it can be used to benefit or bolster our collection and mission, and try to get beyond the initial “whoa—that’s cool!” factor.

The MakerBot

Dutch Clouds, Past and Present

Conversation 6, a special exhibition on view at the San Francisco Arts Commission Main Gallery in the Civic Center through April 27, pairs Jason Hanasik, a local multimedia artist, with Berndnaut Smilde, an internationally recognized installation artist from Amsterdam. Today’s guest blogger Meg Shiffler is the director of the SFAC Galleries, and in this entry focuses on the work of Smilde and its relationship to paintings featured in the special exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis.

Smilde1

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Munnekeholm, 2012

Art + Technology = Tapestries

De Young Artist Fellows Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth are preparing for the final installation of their monumental triptych The Conflicts. Get a sneak peek at the culminating exhibition of their fellowship in the group show Punch Card, opening at Catharine Clark Gallery this Saturday, January 19, 2013. Hope and Roth will present the completed tapestries at the de Young in the Artist Studio throughout the month of March. In this blog post, Hope and Roth examine the role technology has played in the process of creating this work.

Gallery shot

Mummy by the Bay: Irethorrou, an Egyptian Priest of the Early Persian Period

This Halloween, we take you inside one of the Museums’ most enigmatic inhabitants: the mummy Irethorrou. While mummies have long been the antagonists of numerous horror films, they also provide us with incredible insight into the funerary practices and religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians. We dare you to read on as curator Dr. Renée Dreyfus and Egyptologist Jonathan P. Elias unwrap the Museums’ mummy.

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin, ca. 500 BC. Egypt, Akhmim, Middle Egypt. Human remains, linen, wood with polychrome. Gift of the First Federal Trust Company (from the Estate of Jeremiah Lynch). 42895

#MuseumOlympics Torch on Fire: A Story of Collaboration and Social Innovation

For the past two weeks, the world watched athletes from the world over compete and triumph in the 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, museums the world over competed on Twitter in the tongue-in cheek competition #MuseumOlympics, which originated right here in San Francisco. Willa Köerner, digital engagement associate at SFMOMA and today's g uest blogger, takes us behind the scenes of #MuseumOlympics and reveals the origins of what will surely become a new quadrennial tradition.

Taber Olympics

Isaiah West Taber (American, 1830–1912). Olympic Club Day, 1894. Gelatin silver print. California Midwinter International Exposition, through M.H. deYoung. 2502

Man in the Mirror

Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young celebrates the history of the dandy from Oscar Wilde to Jean Paul Gaultier. Whereas Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic style was derided as too feminine, Jean Paul Gaultier embraces gender bending, dressing men in skirts and women in exquisitely tailored suits. In this way, Gaultier's designs approach a new androgyny and subvert established fashion codes. The designer toys with standard concepts of the masculine and feminine throughout the special exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , but one exhibit in particular literally speaks to this issue. He is the Man in the Mirror.

Conservation in 3D: Skype, Stereographs and Silicon

Recently one of the Museums’ most generous supporters, Dorothy Saxe, purchased a sculpture for the collection in memory of our late director John E. Buchanan. Created by contemporary glass artist Beth Lipman, Candlesticks, Books, Flowers and Fruit (2010) is a complex compilation of multiple elements balanced precariously on a table. My role as an objects conservator is to ensure that all the elements of this fragile sculpture are installed safely and in keeping with the artist’s original intent.

Word Gallery: Granulation

Throughout art history, scholars have devised a special vocabulary to talk about art. These terms are very useful, but they are not always self-explanatory. Enter into the art historical word gallery, where we provide some definitions commonly used to describe artistic styles, techniques, or movements in art.

FRAME|WORK: Magnolia Blossom by Imogen Cunningham

FRAME|WORK is a weekly blog series that highlights an artwork in the Museums' permanent collections. This week, we feature an iconic photograph by renowned Bay Area photographer Imogen Cunningham. Magnolia Blossom is currently not on view, so take some time to stop and smell the flowers (virtually)!

RTI Photography of the Red-Figure Pelike

In my last post, I introduced you to the cutting edge photography Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a technique invented by Tom Malzbender at Hewlett Packard Labs. Here at the Museums, we have been using RTI to gain better understanding of objects in our permanent collection. We have just completed another round of RTI photography of this 5th-century Greek pelike.

Preserving Images of the 1906 Earthquake

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is home to a unique collection of 167 film negatives taken by photographer Arnold Genthe chronicling the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake and fires. The negatives were acquired by the Legion of Honor in 1943.

Genthe 1

Arnold Genthe (photographer), American, 1869–1942
Untitled (Earthslip on San Francisco's Union Street), 1906
Cellulose nitrate negative
Museum purchase, James D. Phelan Bequest Fund. 1943.407.6.1

On the day of the earthquake Genthe, an established photographer best known for his society portraits and views of old Chinatown, took to the streets of San Francisco equipped with a handheld Kodak camera and pockets full of roll film.

The film Genthe used was composed of a gelatin silver emulsion on a thin plastic support of cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate film was introduced commercially at the end of the nineteenth century and remained in use until the mid-twentieth century. Lightweight, transparent and flexible, cellulose nitrate film freed photographers from the inconveniences of its predecessors, paper and glass plate negatives.

Cutting Edge Photography Technique Comes to the de Young!

My name is Sue Grinols and as the director of photo services and imaging, I witness the intersection of art and technology on a daily basis. This is an exciting time to be working in photography. Just seeing how technology is changing the field can be breathtaking, not to mention challenging.

Photographing artwork is a sub-specialty of studio photography. Here at the Museums, we use the same equipment and techniques as photographers who produce beautiful images of cars, perfume bottles, leather couches, and the perfectly grilled steak. But instead of trying to capture the steak’s sizzle or the couch’s inviting warmth, we attempt to bring out the essential character of the artwork while emphasizing its sublime beauty whenever possible. When we’re not doing that, we can make images that show the hard, cold details of an object in order to help conservators as they work through treating the artwork, or to help curators in their scholarly study of an object. It is this second type of photography that I want to blog about today.

dYinterpretations: A Journey through the de Young with Filmmaker-in-Residence Lise Swenson

The de Young Museum previews its new iPhone application dYinterpretations: A Journey through the de Young with Filmmaker-in-Residence Lise Swenson on Friday, February 11, during the museum’s weekly event Cultural Encounters: Friday Nights at the de Young. Museum lovers will be given the opportunity to download the new app for free in the iTunes App Store between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm prior to its official release on March 1 for $2.99.

Podcast: FAMSF Curator of Ancient Art Renee Dreyfus Talks About Tut in '79 and Now

Our newest podcast features FAMSF curator of ancient art and interpretation Renee Dreyfus, who talks about the 1979 Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition and the current Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Renee was on the curatorial team for the first Tut exhibition 30 years ago, and now heads up the FAMSF curatorial efforts for the current offering.