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Mathematical approaches for virtual art restoration

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GFSW04 - Form in art, toys and games

Virtual image restoration, also called image inpainting, denotes the process whereby missing or occluded parts in images are filled in based on the information provided by the intact parts of the image. In this talk I will sketch and motivate different mathematical principles that can guide a digital restoration attempt. Digital photographs of art pieces are essentially mathematical objects, and this puts the vast toolbox of mathematics at the restorers’ fingertips. We will encounter the role of differential equations and patch-based methods for virtually restoring structure, texture and colour in images. In particular, we will show examples from the restoration of the Neidhart frescoes (Tuchlauben, Vienna), the restoration of a painting by Sebastiano Del Piombo (the Hamilton Kerr Institute, The Fitzwilliam Museum), and the unearthing of hidden structures in illuminated manuscripts revealed by infrared imaging (the MINIARE project, the Fitzwilliam Museum). After a critical discussion of restoration results I will conclude by pointing out the capabilities and limitations of digital restoration methods, and provide some hints towards applications of such mathematical approaches that go beyond the restoration of arts – such as medicine, forensics and geography.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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