Museums and art galleries are repositories of treasured artworks created by notable artists throughout history. These artworks are archived, conserved and studied for they dictate artistic styles that would aid in understanding history and expanding the existing knowledge in art.
Unfortunately, defects are inevitable especially in old pieces due to human interventions and changing environmental conditions. In the Philippines today, no current quantitative procedures are used in order to closely analyze paintings and accurately determine qualities and defects. The only bases for authentication, archiving, and restoration are history, material, style of the painter, and other visually identifiable characteristics of the artwork.
Motivated by the need to restore, preserve and contribute to the study of Philippine Art, experts from the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD) are currently working on a project funded by the Office of the Chancellor entitled “Art Beyond Appearances: Physics Looks into Paintings.” The Art Analysis team led by Dr. Ana Maria Theresa Labrador has collaborated with the Physics team led by Dr. Maricor Soriano to develop an optical imaging technique that would provide quantitative analysis of artworks which may guide curators, conservators and researchers.
The ongoing research uses artworks in the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center as test subjects. Examples are Fernando Amorsolo’s paintings like Malacañang by the River (Oil on canvas, 1948). Using only a digital camera and locally developed software, the Physics team can perform Spectral Imaging and Photometric Stereo for the measurement and analysis of reflectance spectra and texture of paintings, respectively. With Spectral Imaging, the spectral reflectance that shows the characteristics of colors are determined, thus aiding in the documentation of the color use of selected Filipino artists and making possible accurate color reproduction for inpainting restoration work. Determining the surface topography of oil paintings through Photometric Stereo facilitates in the detection of defects (discolorations, cracks, deformations, etc.) and canvas weaves. Through multiple images of the surface taken at different light source locations, a three-dimensional visualization of the surface structure is created, thus achieving a clear view of the imperfections of the painting surface.
Discolorations and defects in oil on canvases are usually due to the changes in temperature and relative humidity within the museum or any storage location. There are existing guidelines for the conservation of paintings from the West, but the different climate in the Philippines, where temperature and relative humidity are higher, is significant to the conservation process and thus, should be considered in the study. Through the help of a team from the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE) led by Marc Caesar Talampas, a wireless sensor network has been developed and installed in a selected location inside the Vargas Museum to monitor and control its temperature and relative humidity. Such monitoring and control is done through the SHT15 sensor from Sensirion, which has a serial interface and consumes very little power; it is connected to a Z8! Encore microcontroller readily available at the Instrumentation, Robotics and Control Laboratory in EEE. Through these processes, the right environmental condition for the paintings is maintained and the conservation methods of the museum are improved.
Working on the results gathered by the Physics team on the hidden signatures of painters and the artworks’ color and texture are the members of the Arts Analysis team. They study implications of such findings to the preconceived notions in the history of art including the exposition on the “Philippine Light” (a product of a painting technique called backlighting) which according to artists is seen in most of Fernando Amorsolo’s paintings. They also research on the paintings’ pigments, materials used and their sources, and review other related studies.
Dr. Labrador reports that this project has been featured in different media for public awareness such as in the UP Newsletter, Manila Bulletin, Business World, and on the evening news of RPN 9. More events are being planned to promote the study. According to Dr. Labrador, the project not only aims to develop tools to study and preserve masterpieces, but also to establish interdisciplinary courses on preventive conservation, color analysis, monitoring of environments of collections, and art historical construction.
Office of the Vice Chancellor | ResearchSEA
New technology for ultra-smooth polymer films
28.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Diamond watch components
18.06.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences