Reading time: 4 minutes
I’m a huge fan of everything open source, and in particular, a passionate advocate of museums and galleries releasing images and other digital assets for re-use. With more and more institutions choosing to go down the open source path, the opportunities to digitally explore our cultural heritage are ever increasing.
With this in mind, and inspired by a tweet from Jason Evans, Wikipedian in Residence at the National Museum of Wales, I started learning how to use the free image editing software Pixlr so that I could play around with some of these released assets.
I chose two of my favourite artists to focus on: contemporaries Vincent van Gogh and William Morris, as I really liked the idea of combining their very different styles.
So what did I learn?
A surprising amount – particularly about this van Gogh painting, and the artist’s style in general. Considering that I have seen one version of the ‘real thing’ hanging in the museum in Amsterdam, this probably says quite a lot about my powers of observation (!) and perhaps something about that particular gallery experience. Creating these mash-ups offered a different, and just as rewarding, experience from that visit. Firstly, as I zoomed into the digital image I realised that there was much I had missed in the gallery viewing, for example, the details of the bottles, jug and other objects on the bedside table.
Nor had I previously noticed how the pictures on the right hand side hang out from the wall, as if pressing themselves into the room and bearing down on the occupant, emphasising the rather cramped atmosphere.
Replacing van Gogh’s painted walls and floor with William Morris wallpaper and carpet forced the creation of clear, sharp lines around objects such as the mirror, shutters and furniture, in contrast to van Gogh’s blurred and inconsistent ones. Several times I erased and re-masked an area, studying the paint strokes and trying to decide the best line to take. As a result, I definitely have a deeper appreciation of the use of colour and brush strokes in van Gogh’s work.
The resulting mash-ups:
archives releasing digitized assets for re-use: