PicTouch: a Tangible Interface for Art Restoration


Leonardo Bonanni, Maurizio Seracini, Xiao Xiao, Matthew Hockenberry, Bianca Cheng Costanzo, Andrew Shum, Antony Speranza, Romain Teil, Hiroshi Ishii.


We rarely get the chance to experience a precious work of art as a restorer does: touching, repairing it, and occasionally leaving a trace. Pictouch is an exploration of the painting as a living and material thing, not just a static image. Using large touch-sensitive displays, it becomes possible to not only gaze at an im­age but engage directly with its canvas, stretching it, scraping away at the layers of paint, and occasionally even tearing it. Pictouch was inspired by the practice of art diagnosticians using medical imaging equip­ment to photograph paintings at invisible wavelengths of light. These infrared, ultraviolet and x-ray pho­tographs reveal initial sketches, the order in which paint was deposited as well as varnish and subsequent changes or restoration attempts. Pictouch gives users intuitive access to these multiple layers through physical metaphors on a large touch display. This interface is being developed as a way to make modern diagnostic imaging of priceless artwork available to the museum going public and online through a new generation of touch-based interfaces.

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