Semantic and abstraction content of art images

Day - Time: 29 September 2010, h.11:00
Place: Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa - Room: C-29
  • Peter Stanchev (Kettering University, Flint, MI, USA)

Fausto Rabitti


A key characteristic of visual arts’ objects is that they are created by a cognitive process. The artwork is not merely an objective presentation, but also communicates one or more subjective messages, "delivered" from the creator to the observer. Every touch to the artwork helps to build bridges between cultures and times.

Since its first publication in 1962 Janson's History of Art is one of the most valuable sources of information spanning the spectrum of Western art history from the Stone Age to the 20th century. It became a prominent introduction to art for children and a reference tool for adults trying to recall the identity of some familiar image. The colorful design and numerous illustrations of exceptional quality are far from being a means for providing dry information; they also contribute to experience a deep emotional fulfillment.

But now online search engines have whetted web surfers' appetites for context and information, there are a host of digital databases and repositories offering easy access to digital items, presenting the colorfulness of art history as well as to connected metadata, giving all additional information from pure technical details, connected with the way of creating the artifacts, to deep personal details from the life of the creators, which help the observers to understand input message in the masterpieces.

The digital repositories of cultural heritage objects can employ similar techniques as generic ones in order to provide standard functionality for searching objects. The cultural heritage objects are rich in content, describing events, monuments, places, people; they are distributed across different locations. The users can formulate queries using different modalities such as free text, similarity matching, or metadata. The specifics of observed objects profile some additional tasks, which are interesting to be observed. In area of art paintings retrieval the sensitive, semantic and aesthetic gaps are quite actual problem. In the current years, very actual stands the problems of semantic, syntactic and profile interoperability and constructing reference layers; additional area to explore is linked data which allow to contextualize objects in the cultural heritage domain.

In this seminar a succinct overview of the development of repositories of digital art images and then highlighted the specialized search methods in this domain are presented. Compared to other cultural heritage materials, to improve the accessibility of digitized art images, a transition in the methods is needed from approaches involving only textual metadata towards "hybrid" approaches of retrieval using content based image retrieval jointly with the metadata.

The seminar is organized in the following way. First a brief overview of the main directions of presentation and analysis of artworks is given. An attempt for describing the taxonomy of art image content is proposed. Our approach for extracting attributes, concerning different aspects of image content in order to receive discriminating profiles for describing abstraction specifics of artists, schools or movements is presented. A description of the program realization and conducted experiments over a dataset, which contains artworks of Western and contemporary Israel artists is analyzed. Finally some conclusions and future research directions are highlighted.