Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indentifying fake art, update...

Can you spot which one is real and which one is fake?

Apparently you can.

Teaching a computer to spot a bogus Bruegel.

Just a small update from the Playing the Part and F for Fake Orson Welles-ish post, a computer model to identify fakery is being developed (via Geekpress).

Rockmore, a mathematician at Dartmouth College, knew of statistical techniques to detect individual styles in other arts, such as writing. Back in the 1960s, Frederick Mosteller and David Wallace had statistically analyzed a dozen essays from The Federalist Papers whose authorship was disputed. Mosteller and Wallace compared the frequencies with which the essays used non-contextual words such as “by” and “from” and showed that all 12 were far more consistent with the writing style of James Madison than that of Alexander Hamilton or John Jay.

The challenge for Rockmore was to define the “words” that comprise a painting and then to find characteristic regularities in the way a particular artist uses those elements.

To code the complex images that appear on the retina into a simple form in the brain, the human visual system takes advantage of the fact that the natural world is pretty predictable. If one spot we’re viewing is white, for example, the spot next to it is very likely to also be white. So once an image strikes the retina, the brain uses “filters,” neurons that are triggered by particular patterns in a small patch we’re viewing, Graham says. One filter, for example, might detect something like a horizontal white stripe on a black background, while another might detect a vertical white stripe on a black background. Two or more filters might be triggered by a single patch.

The particular filters our brains use are exquisitely tuned to the world around us. The brain seems to have evolved so that it needs only a handful of filters to sense any patch from an image in the natural world. But if we traveled to some world with very different visual characteristics, our brains would have to use many more filters at a time to represent what we would see.


This kind of project really highlights the current mini-theme here of perception, identifying things correctly and incorrectly, and why we like what we like. It's starting to make sense that there are certain key characteristics that define an object one way or another, authenticity vs. forgery, like vs. dislike, real or surrogate. It is also starting to become clearer that these characteristics are often such small modifications from the standard norm that often they're not immediately recognized as key characteristics for identification, at least consciously. And if it is recognized, is it a fair assessment given the bounty of experience you've had in your life?

I think it's pretty fair to say that's on a case by case basis. Anyway, I like this shit, perception needs to give way soon.. just one or two more!...

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