Tuesday, April 22, 2008

16 Billion Pixels

Have you seen the 16-billion pixel reproduction of Leonardo's restored Last Supper? Created jointly in 2007 by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Assets and Activities, De Agostini, and HAL9000 (a high-definition photography company), this image boasts pixel dimensions of 172,181 x 93,611. One can zoom into areas as small as a square millimeter to reveal minute cracks and chips that are invisible to those viewing the painting in situ. While the imaging company's ubiquitous and perhaps unavoidable watermarks may detract a bit from the experience, one can still study the Apostles' toes, the tablecloth, and the landscape in the background in close detail. The Last Supper is the most famous of HAL9000's high definition projects, but the company's web site also features an 8.6-billion pixel  image of Gaudenzio Ferrari's 1513 Life of Christ, from S. Maria della Grazie in Varallo Sesia, and a 9.8-billion pixel image of Andrea Pozzo's Glory of St Ignatius Loyola (1691-1694), from San Ignazio in Rome.

Image: Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, ca. 1494-1498, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy.  From Wikimedia Commons.

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