Because art is inherently visual, the use of imaging has long been an important way to understand its structure, form, and history. Recently, new ways of engaging with objects from our shared cultural heritage are possible with advances in computation and imaging that allow scientists to analyze art noninvasively, historians to pose new social questions about the art, and the public to explore and interact with art in ways never before possible. There is a rich history in applying image processing techniques to conventional photographic images of works of art, many of which have been highlighted in previous special issues of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine (e.g., the 2008 and 2015 July issues). Building on these contributions, this article comprises a survey of techniques where computation is central to the image acquisition process. Known as computational imaging, the methods being pioneered in this field are increasingly relevant to cultural heritage applications because they leverage advances in image processing, acquisition, and display technologies that make scientific data readily comprehensible to a broad cohort of nontechnical researchers interested in understanding the visual content of art. Presently, only a small research community undertakes computational imaging of cultural heritage. Here we aim to introduce this growing new field to a larger research community by discussing: 1) the historic background of imaging of art, 2) the burgeoning present day community of researchers interested in computational imaging in the arts, and finally, 3) our vision for the future of this new field.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Signal Processing
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Applied Mathematics