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Label: research

Friday 12th June 2015The Hidden History of Art

Art is often mysterious. Anyone who has been spellbound by portraits and still lifes from long ages past or gotten lost in the exploration of a mirror-world of meanings behind conceptual artwork will be familiar with this. The primary difference is that conceptual artwork tends to be the subject of lively modern debate, whereas works by artists long centuries dead are inherently more mysterious, as there are naturally none living today to who were alive at the same time as the artist. It thus falls to the art historian, anthropologists and other experts to make best guesses at the stories behind the development of some of the most famous works of art.

Recently these artistic excavators got a new tool in their arsenal, courtesy of a new advanced scanning technique being developed by a group called INSIDDE - "INtegration of technological Solutions for Imaging, Detection, and Digitisation of hidden Elements in artworks" - pretty long winded, but they're doing some great work. Typically, x-ray and infrared reflectography is used to peer inside paintings, but this is largely avoided unless absolutely necessary, as these techniques heat the materials of the painting, which can lead to cracking or other types of erosion, and in some cases seriously damaging the work.

Thanks to recent developments in terahertz scanning, this problem has been avoided. Terahertz scanning has been generally unreliable for extremely fine detail work, like that necessary in the art world, but new developments in material science has provided a way past these stumbling blocks. Incorporating the space-age nanomaterial graphene, the researchers were able to generate a terahertz scanner that overcame this problem and has allowed them to look at each and every single layer of material created by the artist, included individual layers of gesso.

The project is still in the prototyping phase, but promises to be an exciting new tool for art historians and researchers. Who knows what hidden details lurk beneath the surface of some of the greatest masterpieces in the world? Thanks to this revolutionary new method, we may soon be able to find out - let's just hope it doesn't turn into some real life Da Vinci Code. Although, on second thought, that might actually be even more incredibly amazing. Only time will tell for sure, but we can expect some interesting results in the next couple of years!
 

Posted on June 12th 2015 on 05:02pm
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